Good Afternoon! Welcome to Bellarmine University, one of the best and fastest-growing universities in the nation.
a longtime member of the GLI board, I am especially pleased to have you
all here, and to have a few minutes to catch you up to date on our
progress with Vision 2020. That’s our plan to become the Premier Independent Catholic University in the South – and, thereby, The Leading Private University in the Commonwealth and Region.
And I want to make sure everyone understands why it is important that
we succeed in this enterprise, so that Louisville will have something
it has never had before, but must have, in order to be competitive: A
Nationally Pre-eminent Private University of significant size and stature.
have a tremendous amount of work still to do, of course, but this
Vision is actually taking place on this campus, and I want to tell you
about that. You might leave here with a completely different
understanding of what Bellarmine University is right now, and about how
important its success will be for our community and region.
some background. Everyone knows that Kentucky, historically, has been
in the basement when it comes to educational attainment. All of our
leaders in Business, Education and Government agree that Kentucky must
“double the numbers” of people with a bachelor’s degree or higher if we
are going to be competitive.
2020 – to triple enrollment and double facilities, by building our
undergraduate enrollment and by strategically adding several new and
needed graduate and professional schools – is perfectly aligned with
these goals, and with the Brookings Institute’s post-merger report on
what Louisville needs to do to become a competitive regional city.
so in the past two years we have set two new records in the numbers of
entering freshmen, and these are students with strong academic
credentials. You might be interested to learn that, this year, forty-two percent of them come from out of state.
(Many of these bright young people will want to stay here to live and
to work if they have an opportunity. So work with our career center if
you’re looking for top talent!)
Of course, to accommodate this intentional growth in our student
population, everything else has to grow too. And so we are developing
our 135-acre campus, and we are adding highly qualified, full-time
faculty and staff.
We have built a new stadium for
our Division I Lacrosse Team and other field sports, we have built a
new residence hall -- and a second new residence hall has the roof
trusses going on right now and will open here in December. When that
happens, we will have almost 1,000 students living on campus, and that
will get us to 50 percent of our undergraduates, which meets the
Carnegie Classification for a residential university. Then we will
exceed that number because we have two more new residence halls on the
drawing boards, along with a parking structure, major renovation of
Knights’ Hall, expansion of dining facilities, new classrooms and new
offices – including a signature complex of buildings at the top of the
hill that will be in front of, and connected to, Horrigan Hall. We have
a Master Plan for developing this campus strategically, beautifully and
We added 28 new full-time faculty members this
year, bringing our full-time total to 149, almost 80 percent of whom
have terminal degrees in their fields. Our student faculty ratio is
13-1 and our average class size is 19 students. And we are adding at
least 10 more fulltime faculty next year, so that our students will
continue to have the human-scale educational experience that is a
hallmark of EXCELLENCE at Bellarmine University.
just said the word “excellence,” and I want to talk about that for a
moment in connection with Bellarmine. Here are some things you might
- Bellarmine has been a top-rated comprehensive university for 14 consecutive years in U.S. News and World Report.
Princeton Review lists Bellarmine as one of the 368 best undergraduate
institutions in the nation. (We are among only 15 percent of the
nation’s four-year colleges and universities that make the cut each
- Forbes has just ranked the nation’s
colleges and universities, public and private together, (at Forbes dot
com) and Bellarmine ranked in the top 100 in the nation, out of more
than 3,000. We were 83rd in the Forbes listing. Just to give you an
idea, Georgetown University is 76th, Notre Dame is 77th, Duke is 80th,
Johns Hopkins is 81st, and Emory is 82nd.
- In The
National Survey of Student Engagement, students rate their educational
experience at their own respective schools. Bellarmine does better than
the public universities in Kentucky, better than the average of 140
private university peers, and better than the national average of all
schools. So, our students – who might be our toughest critics – love it
here, compared to how students elsewhere feel about the education they
are getting at those other schools.
- Meanwhile, The Kentucky Chamber just named Bellarmine one of the Best Places to Work in Kentucky.
one of our accounting students, with two Bellarmine degrees, just
finished in the top 10 on the national CPA test – out of more than
76,000 students across the country who took it.
So we are not just growing, we are an excellent university that is intentionally growing while maintaining a focus on continued Academic Excellence for Lives of Leadership and Service.
Why does this matter so much? After all, Bellarmine is a relatively small, private university.
We are not a giant public Megaversity run by the state, so why are we
important to the public at large? Because we operate very much in the
public interest. And the return on investment is astounding. Consider
University and the other 19 private institutions receive only 4 percent
of the state’s total appropriation to higher education. We get no state
help with capital projects, we are excluded from programs like Bucks
for Brains – in fact, ALL of that $53 million expenditure for private
higher education is in the form of direct financial aid to individual
students. And that is very important to us.
- Meanwhile, however:
- These private institutions provide more than One Billion Dollars worth of educational facilities, at NO COST to the state.
- Bellarmine alone provides more than One Hundred Million Dollars worth of educational facilities, at NO COST to the state.
private institutions enroll almost a fifth of all the state’s college
students. Two out of three of them graduate in four years – a
graduation rate that the larger universities cannot match in SIX years.
turn out almost a quarter of this state’s teachers – and at Bellarmine,
every single one of them is dual certified, in the subject they are
going to teach AND in special education.
turn out almost a quarter of this state’s nurses – and by the way it is
highly likely that a Bellarmine-educated nurse will be taking care of
each of us at one time or another between now and the time we “join the
- Our Physical Therapy
doctoral program sends 46 highly skilled professional practitioners
into the workforce each year, into a field whose entry level salary is
- We hear a lot about the STEM
initiative, to increase educational attainment in science, technology,
engineering and math. Did you know that Kentucky’s private institutions
produce disproportionately more college degrees in math and sciences?
percent of the state’s physics degrees, 38 percent of the state’s math
degrees and 34 percent of the state’s biology degrees are awarded to
the 22 percent of Kentucky college graduates who attended Bellarmine
and the other privates.
excellent Business School is AACSB accredited, which puts us in the top
15 percent internationally – and is listed in the Princeton Review as
one of the Best Business Schools of 2009.
of international, a third of our students study abroad, and that number
is growing – as is the number of international students coming here to
study, and the number of international opportunities afforded our
faculty and staff.
- At this point, many
people think, aha! – but your student body is composed of hand-picked,
privileged students who can afford a high, private school tuition.
- This is not the case.
percent of our students are the first generation in their families to
attend college – and we just got a grant from Wal-Mart because of the
great job we do with this population.
don’t let the sticker price fool you –the real COST after financial aid
is highly affordable, because we give millions of dollars in financial
aid every year and we work with families to make sure they can afford a
Bellarmine is in the vanguard of this important work Louisville must do
in increasing educational attainment so we can be competitive. And our
Vision 2020 serves the public interest. We are a private university in
the public interest.
Yesterday in this room I met
with our faculty and staff to kick off the new academic year. And I can
assure you that we are very enthusiastic, and very focused, about
helping Bellarmine University become for Louisville and Kentucky what
Vanderbilt is for Tennessee, what Duke is for North Carolina, what
Notre Dame is for Indiana, and so on.
I hope you all
will be enthusiastic for Bellarmine, too. And focused on helping us
succeed. Because the states that are doing well are strong in BOTH
public AND private higher education. So, for the good of this community
and region, we need to succeed -- and you need us to succeed. And we
need you to help us succeed. So we look forward to your very real and
important engagement and support going forward!
Thank you for being here today!