Serving as your chancellor has been an honor and a privilege. I have devoted my life to teaching and learning and making a difference. That will never change. I want to share with you that I have submitted my resignation as chancellor effective December 31, 2018.
I want to thank each of you, not only for all you do for this University, but for the difference you make in the communities we serve. For 150 years, this institution has been inspiring, engaging and transforming lives and you have continued that great tradition. I am certainly one of those individuals you have inspired, engaged and transformed by your passion, your dedication and your relentless pursuit of excellence.
We have accomplished a lot together. I am proud of the fact we conferred a record number of degrees and completed a record year of fundraising this past year. We have a record-high retention rate of 82.1% that is 11.7% above the national average and a six-year graduation rate that is 14% above the national average for our type of institution.
We launched a bold, new strategic plan for the University and a sesquicentennial celebration that champions our many accomplishments, creating a new legacy of success for our students and the communities we serve. I am proud of how we worked together to accomplish the UW System restructuring and the bringing together of two vibrant campuses, and yes, we are even better together.
For the second consecutive year, we have been named among the Colleges of Distinction — a national honor that recognizes campuses for exceptional teaching and dedication to student success. I am proud of championing our students’ success and opening the Mary Poppe Chrisman Success Center and our Warhawk Emergency Fund, Success Closet, and Food Pantry. I am proud of how we have embraced the Wisconsin Idea by working collaboratively to bring the Community Engagement Center and a new hotel to Whitewater and to expand our partnerships in Rock County.
But mostly, I am so proud of each of you and your amazing work and accomplishments.
Succeeding is in the fabric of this great university and helping others be successful is our passion. Striving for excellence and helping others reach their fullest potential is what we do. Our mission to serve, and our goal of providing our students with a world-class liberal arts education are critical in this ever-changing world we are in. We know their liberal arts education will not only prepare them for their next job and their career, it will prepare them for life. Our democracy, our way of life that so many have defended and sacrificed their lives for, depends on an educated citizenry. So what we do here, what we do at every other university in this System and across this country matters — because our students matter — they are our future.
Higher education is in a period of unprecedented change, but through it all, you — the students, faculty, and staff of this amazing University — have never lost sight of our core values. In addition to being the champions of a liberal arts education, we are the guardians of intellectual vitality, social justice and public education that is accessible and affordable. We are drivers of economic prosperity and workforce development in our region and our state. And yes, we make the world a better place. Always remember your work is noble work.
I will forever have a place in my heart that you have touched that is Warhawk purple.