Aug. 24, 2016

Aug. 24, 2016: Welcome Back for Fall Semester

Creighton University President, the Rev. Daniel Hendrickson, SJ

I am eager to greet you on this first day of undergraduate classes of fall 2016. I truly hope you enjoyed summertime, and that you too are excited to commence a new season of learning and living here on our campus. The Welcome Week activities for new students continue through the week, but already returning students and staff have impressively, enthusiastically, and informatively welcomed and orientated new students in all of our colleges and schools.  

Yesterday, I joined over 1,030 new students in our annual tradition of Creighton Pathway and the Academic Convocation. With many members of our community, it was exciting to walk with them from our starting point outside St. John’s Church to the Ryan Athletic Center, and visit with many of them regarding their impressions of Creighton and their hopes for the future. Your own cheers along the mall were spirited and hospitable, and charges – new this year – from many of our deans to students entering their colleges were inspirational and challenging.  

At Convocation, I encouraged the students to deeply appreciate the core curricular influences that will shape their first semesters of study with us, and as many of them move over the years into our impressive range of expertise in the liberal arts, health sciences, business, and law, to let humanist regard cultivate greater dimensions of self-awareness and awareness of others.  

The class of 2020 is the fourth largest class in University history, and several states have record numbers of students represented, including, for example, the largest number of Minnesotans in our history with 138. The median standardized test score is a 27 on the ACT or comparable on the SAT, and the median GPA is 3.8. Thirty-five percent of the class ranked in the top 10 percent of their high school class, and 20 percent of the students come from 1,000 miles or more away from campus. Fifty-seven percent of the class has indicated interest in pursuing a career in the health sciences, the Heider College of Business will match its record enrollment achieved in 2015, and the College of Nursing will exceed its 2015 record year. It is certainly an outstanding group of young women and men joining us this year. 

Ever mindful of the need to support the talented faculty and staff at Creighton and recognize the work you do every day, the Creighton Board of Trustees recently approved a budget for 2016-17 that includes a merit pool of 2 percent for faculty and staff compensation increases. Merit increases will be awarded based on performance. Interim Provost Dr. Tom Murray will soon communicate information to members of the faculty regarding additional funds dedicated to special market adjustments.

In regard to our search for a new provost, I am very pleased to announce that Dr. Tim Dickel of the College of Arts and Sciences has accepted my invitation to chair the search committee. Dr. Dickel is currently professor of education and director of the master’s program in school counseling and preventive mental health. During his 40 years at Creighton, he has been associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, chair of the Education Department, and dean of University College and Summer Sessions, among other roles. 

Also, within a matter of days, I should receive nominations from Academic Council, Staff Advisory Council, and Creighton Students Union for University-wide representation on the committee. It is my hope to announce the full membership of the committee next week. In addition, I anticipate being able to soon select a national search firm to assist us with the process.
I recently reviewed a report compiled by 11 members of the campus community who studied the Area Examen documents submitted by all Creighton units, along with a summary of the two all-University Examen meetings that occurred last Spring on April 22. While the report does not articulate specific thoughts, feelings, and recommendations related to the many departments of Creighton, it does suggest recurrent cross-campus themes. The report is available on my website, and will continue to assist us as we move more formally into institutional planning. As always, I am grateful for your continued feedback and support.  

To discuss with you the provost search, planning efforts, and other matters of our lives on campus, please join me on Tuesday, Oct. 11, in the Harper Center Hixson-Lied Auditorium from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. or 3:30 to 5 p.m. for conversation. I will provide additional updates before then. 

In looking ahead to the month of September, I hope you will join me for the Mass of the Holy Spirit at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 14, in St. John’s Church. The Mass is one of the oldest traditions in the Society of Jesus and always occurs at the beginning of the new academic year as an invocation of the Holy Spirit to assist all members of the campus community in our pursuit of wisdom and knowledge. 

Also, Creighton’s annual Homecoming celebration is quickly approaching, and more than 100 events are planned Sept. 11-18.

Additionally, Creighton and the Opus Prize Foundation will host the presentation of the Opus Prize, the world’s most prestigious faith-based humanitarian award, at a ceremony this November at the Holland Performing Arts Center in Omaha. Watch for more details soon. 

Finally, last month I shared a video with you that highlighted some of the activities during my first year as president of the University. There were many achievements across the University that we should also celebrate, and you can find highlights of the 2015-2016 academic year here.

I pray that you have a wonderful semester and hope you enjoy the many activities occurring this fall at Creighton.

Rev. Daniel S. Hendrickson, SJ