Dear Colleagues,

Thank you for your extraordinary efforts as we close out our first month of classes for fall 2020. I am so appreciative of your dedication to our students and your stellar work to meet their needs in spite of the obstacles presented by COVID-19. You have leveraged opportunities this crisis has presented and are making the best experience we can possibly give our students this semester and still provide for the health and well-being of our community. Your efforts demonstrate your commitment to our priority of student success.

When we are heads down doing the hard work, sometimes we lose sight of our great progress, but it is significant and being noticed. You may have seen our news that Ship has been named a U.S. News & World Report Best Regional University and Top Public School. We climbed 12 places from last year to 88th and moved to 25th respectively. The US News rankings is among many accolades Ship earned this year. In addition, we enjoy this year an increase in enrollment in spite of the pandemic, with a 2.3 percent increase in retention in the last year. This gives us a 6 percent increase in retention over the last three years.  We are doing the work and achieving our priority of quality as we go.

With our four priorities in mind, I write today with an update to our organizational structure and staffing shifts. Dr. Peter Gitau, who was hired, in late summer, to fill the position of vice president for enrollment management, student success and student affairs, is no longer with the university. As such, we have made the decision to realign our divisions so that our progress in enrollment and recruitment is not interrupted by a search process. A smooth recruitment and retention process this year is important to ensuring a robust class of incoming students and is paramount to student success.

Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs Tom Ormond assumes full leadership of the student success unit. The enrollment management unit will also now be housed in academic affairs and will report directly through Dr. Sue Mukherjee, senior associate provost. While enrollment management always works across the university, bringing the team into academic affairs more closely aligns enrollment to our lifeblood, academics. Dr. Mukherjee will continue to oversee most of the units previously assigned to her as chief strategy officer; career, mentoring and professional development, accessibility resources, the academic technologies and user services functions of the information technology unit.

The unit overseeing student affairs, under the leadership of Barry McClanahan, associate vice president and chief student affairs officer, will now report under the Division of Administration and Finance. And, the network, telecommunications and infrastructure functions of information technology will also now report up through Administration and Finance.

As we remain committed to our four priorities, two functions formerly housed in information technology, web design and broadcasting and campus media, move to our External Relations and Communications Division to provide additional emphasis for our outreach to the community to continue to tell our story and strengthen our ties with the community.

Finally, I announce that Sam Frushour will be leaving Ship in mid-October to further his career closer to his home in Maryland. We wish Sam well and thank him for his outstanding service to the university.

Shifts in our organizational structure help us refine and enhance the good work being done while we further our commitment to financial sustainability and provide affordable access to a college education. We will continue to work together and across divisions to build on our priorities of student success, telling our story, engaging with our community and quality.

Laurie A. Carter