More than five years ago we painted a picture of Towson in 2010. In 2003, 2010 seemed a little distant, but now it is before us. We took our strategic plan, Towson University 2010: Mapping the Future, and turned it into action at an astonishing rate. In many of our efforts we are arriving early. In 2003, when we had 17,188 students, we said that we would grow to over 20,000 students and this fall we have 21,111 students at Towson University. Of these, 5,615 live on campus, either in campus or adjacent housing. We can boast of a diverse student population that includes 18% minority students. We can boast of a successful student population, with a second-year retention rate of 83% and six-year graduation rates of 64% and 65% for all students and for minority students, respectively. We are among the largest institutions in the country and our campus is alive and vibrant, and academics remain strong.
We have seen growth in other areas, as well. In 2004, we were awarded $8 million in grants and contracts. This past year we reached nearly $24 million and during the upcoming year we will be looking for an additional 10% increase. We have improved in graduate student production. We ended the past year at 18% graduate students and we are knocking on our ceiling of 20%. The 20% is part of our strategic plan and represents a commitment to our core mission.
Our branding campaign, Thinking Outside, has brought us the recognition that we deserve and has played a significant role in changing the perception of the University by highlighting the diverse and exciting efforts of our faculty and staff, professional careers of our graduates, our programs, and the impact of Towson’s applied research and outreach efforts on the region and beyond. A reflection of this recognition is our new peer group. A peer group is key to the success of an institution, influencing grants and contracts, doctorates awarded, faculty work load, programs and so much more.
Yet we still have two years of work and opportunity ahead of us to complete the current strategic plan and to design the next one. As we celebrate our successes and continue to work toward our goals, we recognize that we must ever be engaged in a critical evaluation of our progress. Last year we began our Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) accreditation self-study. Every ten years we go through an in-depth institutional reaccreditation with MSCHE, and it is a critical part of our self-evaluation.
Our work has just begun. It will be two years before our 2010 Middle States accreditation visit. In the interim, many of you will be involved in taking a close look at what we do. I urge you all to participate and to be part of this accreditation. The process gives us a chance to reflect on what we have done well and what we can improve upon to maintain our academic quality. It will culminate in 2010 and it will help guide us through the next ten years.
The TU Middle States Steering Committee is to be commended for this Self-Study Design and I look forward to periodic updates on the progress. Thank you for your leadership in guiding this significant undertaking.
Robert L. Caret, former President, Towson University
Middle States Self-Study Office
Administration Building, Room 210
"The accreditation process gives us a chance to reflect on what we have done well and what we can improve upon to maintain our academic quality. It will culminate in 2010."
– Former President Robert Caret