Greetings from Main
Courage (noun): mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.
When I reflect on this past year, I don’t believe there is a better single word to describe the essence of our University than courage. Our students choosing to be here, in-person, in the midst of a pandemic was humbling and inspiring. In fact, we had our highest first-year to second-year retention rate in at least the last 30 years!
The immense display of courage by our community has given me more confidence than ever about our future — a future filled with promise and innovation. Confidence that we are providing an exceptional experience here that enables our students to turn their passion into purpose.
Our faculty and staff demonstrated incredible courage through their commitment to providing the best experience possible for our students. Students enjoyed creative and innovative opportunities despite distancing and masks — ranging from theatre performances to Pacer Athletics to immersive academic experiences. Our Student Life team developed fun and safe approaches to our long-standing traditions, such as Traditions Dinner, while enhancing some of our newer ones, like the Holiday Celebration and Lighting of the Lawn. We also developed numerous new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives and experiences for students, faculty and staff including book clubs, educational workshops and employee resource groups — all to make us a stronger community and deepen our commitment to DEI.
The University also developed new academic opportunities, including the creation of three new bachelor’s degree programs: Interactive Design, Esports and Gaming Administration, and Human Resource Management, adding to our 30+ majors. We also partnered with Meredith College to create a 4+1 for our students, enabling them to accelerate their path to a Master of Business Administration.
The University was also once again recognized as a top 30 (out of 125) University in the Regional Colleges: South category by U.S. News & World Report. But an even greater point of pride was our peers ranking us as the fourth most innovative university in our category!
As you turn the pages of this magazine, you will experience a deeper journey into courage — stories of courageous confidence that emerged in our University in the midst of the pandemic. I am confident that you will be even more proud of what our amazing students, faculty, staff and alumni are accomplishing as you engage with these important stories. And be assured, there are countless other stories just like those featured here in the magazine, in fact, I am sure you have your own story of courageous confidence. Your support and advocacy for WPU are allowing those stories to be written.
Brian C. Ralph, Ph.D.