Address To The Rotary Club of Louisville
And thank you very much for this opportunity to talk
about Bellarmine University’s Vision 2020 -- a plan that is already
under way, and one that will be just as important and transformational
for the regional city of Louisville as it will be for Bellarmine
With this Vision, Bellarmine is on its way to becoming
the Premier Independent Catholic University in the South – and
therefore, the leading private university in this state and region.
And that means, with your help, that Louisville, KY, is
going to have something it has never had before – a nationally
pre-eminent private university of significant size and stature.
Over the next 15 years, Bellarmine will:
- Triple our enrollment, to about 8,000, with 4,000
each of undergraduate and graduate students.
- Double the number of buildings on campus, from about
30 to about 60.
- Create seven to 10 new graduate and professional
schools strategically selected because this region needs them and
students want them in order to compete in the new economy.
- Consider a move to Division I athletics, because the
best-known schools tend to compete at that level.
This ambitious Vision for Bellarmine is real. We have a
detailed operational plan, financial models, a Master Plan for
developing the campus, marketing and fund-raising plans under way.
We are building on a strong, existing foundation and a
recent record of extraordinary success. If you have not visited
Bellarmine lately, there’s a good chance it already has grown and
improved beyond your imagining.
We consistently rank among the top colleges and
universities in the nation in our category -- and also as one of the
very best values -- in publications such as US News & World Report,
Barron’s and The Princeton Review.
We are a teaching and learning community that is centered
on the liberal arts, and that stresses academic excellence and ethical
awareness in everything we do.
Over and over again we hear from employers that
Bellarmine graduates not only “know their stuff”– they are also “good
people.” Our students develop the intellectual, moral, ethical and
professional competencies for successful living, work, leadership and
service to others.
A couple of other facts that surprise some Louisvillians:
About 40 percent of the students we enroll now are from out of state
and live on our increasingly residential campus. And our well known
International Program offers study abroad in 48 countries on six
continents. Over one-third of our juniors study abroad each year, one
of the highest percentages in the country.
Important among our international programs is the
partnership that we have between our Business students and the
International Committee of the Downtown Rotary Club as they collaborate
on a microlending project in the country of Belize.
Microfinance supports citizens of developing counties
with entrepreneurial opportunities through business planning and small
loan assistance while increasing confidence and reducing poverty by
raising income levels.
The Bellarmine students and Downtown Louisville Rotary
International Committee members determined that the microloans they
distribute will be small amounts of no more than $1,000. The loans will
be disbursed to people who could start their own small business or
increase the profitability of their current business with the money from
the loan. The loans will be distributed in the Belmopán, Belize region
and to individuals participating in environment-friendly projects
During the team’s trip to Belize in March, six
Bellarmine students and members of Downtown Louisville Rotary Club
worked to formalize the expressed support of Belmopán Rotary Club and
began work to place the first loan to a deserving Belize individual by
July 1, 2007.
This initial trip served as a foundation for continued
development of the program and we thank the International Committee and
the Rotary Club for joining us in this partnership.
VISION 2020, which I am outlining for you today, is
already under way. You might have read the story in this morning’s
paper, or seen the TV coverage, about the Institute for Media, Culture
and Ethics that we have just launched! We are moving toward a new
graduate and professional School of Communication: Media, Culture and
Ethics, and this is one of the new schools that was just an idea 18
Is there a reason that Louisville does not deserve, or
cannot have, a private university of significant size and with a
national reputation for academic excellence? We don’t think so.
Is there a reason that Louisville NEEDS a private
university of significant size and with a national reputation for
academic excellence? Absolutely; in fact, there are a lot of reasons.
All of our leaders know that higher education is critical
to successful economic development and quality of life. We need more
people with higher levels of education – not just for jobs, but for
good jobs in the new economy. And NOT just for the money, but for
civility, culture and quality of life.
We in Kentucky are very good at stating this repeatedly
in all sorts of reports.
It was the subject of the Kentucky Higher Education
Improvement Act of 1997.
Institution’s post-merger report on Louisville said human capital and
quality-of-life challenges would be the main threats to our new
regional city’s ability to compete. Among 15 competing cities in the
year 2000, we were second to last in percent of population over age 25
with a bachelor’s degree.
Policy Institute’s Workforce Education Index ranked Louisville 37th
out of 50 metro areas.
Richard Florida, the
demographer and professor of public policy at George Mason University,
ranked Louisville in the bottom 10 of 49 metro areas – lumped in with
places like Buffalo and Grand Rapids – in attracting young, educated,
motivated people, the so-called “creative class” that he and others
believe will drive the nation’s changing economy.
Louisville Project is tracking our performance in this area, and it
warned in a recent report that even though Louisville made progress
between 2000 and 2005 and climbed out of the bottom and into the middle
in the percentage of adults with a bachelor’s degree or higher,
“overall education levels for the Louisville Region’s prime workforce
still lag behind its top competitors by a large margin.”
The Council on
Postsecondary Education says that, for our state to overcome these
deficiencies and reach at least the national average in educational
attainment by the year 2020, we have to double the number of adults with
bachelor’s degrees over the next 14 years. That means that between now
and 2020 we need to produce an additional 389,000 college graduates.
And at the current production level, we will fall 211,000 college
graduates short of that goal!
Just last week, the
Kentucky Chamber of Commerce announced that it is creating a
blue-ribbon committee to study how far we have come in this regard, and
how far we still have to go to reach our goals.
The answer to all of
this is that ALL of our universities, public and private, must attract,
enroll and graduate a lot more students -- and this growth cannot be a
Our public, state
universities cannot do this work by themselves.
cannot do it by themselves, either.
It takes both. Public
AND private universities both must grow -- in a mutually supportive,
mutually beneficial, non-threatening relationship of collaboration and
And if you take a
look around, one of the first things you see is that this relationship
exists in the cities and states that rank ahead of us – but it has been
Indiana has Indiana
University AND the University of Notre Dame; Tennessee has the
University of Tennessee AND Vanderbilt University; Ohio has Ohio State
AND Case Western Reserve University; North Carolina has the
University of North Carolina AND Duke University; Illinois has the
University of Illinois AND the University of Chicago; Missouri has the
University of Missouri AND Washington University; Georgia has the
University of Georgia AND Emory University.
And the list goes on.
Bellarmine can and
must be for Louisville what Vanderbilt is for Nashville, what Emory is
for Atlanta, and so on – a pre-eminent private university that not only
strengthens the local economy immediately and in the future, but also
attracts talent, is a haven for innovation and creativity, and improves
community, culture and quality of life for the whole region.
University is in a position to complete that equation here – by
becoming the Premier Independent Catholic University in the South,
and thereby the leading private university in this state and region.
Bellarmine University, 15 years from today:
- We will have
strengthened our liberal arts core and tripled our undergraduate
enrollment to 4,000 students.
- We will have
increased our graduate and professional schools from 5 to 10 or 12–
adding a Graduate School; a Graduate School of Business; a School of
Communications, Media & Culture; a School of Pharmacy, a School of
Hotel, Food and Beverage Industry Management. Then a School of Law, a
School of Architecture, a School of Veterinary Medicine. We will
have tripled our graduate school enrollment to about 4,000.
- Our Carnegie
Classification will have grown from a Masters I University to
Doctoral/Research University – Intensive. That means we will be
awarding at least 10 doctoral degrees per year across three or more
disciplines, or at least 20 doctoral degrees per year overall.
- Our total
enrollment, undergraduate and graduate, will have grown from 2,500 now,
to 8,000 by 2020.
- We will have
doubled our facilities, from 30 to 60, in 15 years.
- We have a
beautiful 135-acre campus on both sides of Newburg Road, and a Master
Plan showing how we can develop that campus beautifully and well to
accommodate all of this growth.
- In 15 years our
campus will have a new tone and architectural style, with facilities
and landscaping that become a part of our brand and image, based on the
beautiful hill towns and monasteries of Tuscany, the home of our
namesake, St. Robert Bellarmine.
Bellarmine’s campus as one of the most beautiful and distinctive
locations in Louisville – to match the significance and spirit of the
- Imagine a
campus with arches, cloisters, human scale towers, water features,
gardens and art!
- In athletics, we
will be highly competitive in NCAA Division II, and we will compete for
national championships in several sports. And, because this new vision
will put us in the company of peer institutions that are NCAA Division
I, we also will study moving Bellarmine to NCAA Division I. (Think of
the great in-city rivalry that exists up the river between The
Cincinnati Bearcats and the Xavier Musketeers.)
Bellarmine University, will benefit as we realize this vision?
in Louisville and the region will benefit immediately and increasingly
as this vision is realized – and so will their employees, and their
The economic impact
of private universities is significant. Nationwide, they employ
three-quarters of a million people and had estimated revenues in 2001
of $120 billion -- dollars with a cumulative economic impact of nearly
Notre Dame’s economic
impact on the South Bend area is $833M. Duke’s impact on its service
area is $3.2 B. Vanderbilt’s impact for Nashville and middle Tennessee
is $3.7 B. And Emory’s impact on Atlanta is estimated at $5.7 B.
Add to that the
production of more and more graduate and professional degrees to spur
further economic development, sustain vital communities and provide
ascendancy will also benefit the public university sector, creating a
more competitive, productive and stimulating higher education
environment throughout the region.
need public universities to grow and succeed because we want to send
our undergraduates to competitive graduate schools, and because we need
to hire faculty from their graduate ranks, among others.
need private universities to grow and succeed because private
universities, who depend on private money in order to operate, must be
responsive, innovative, experimental, resilient and open to change –
and thus can move to markets and to matters of high academic quality
with greater facility, ease and speed.
This serves to create a
truly competitive environment that stimulates greater productivity
among the public sector universities.
And when both public
AND private universities grow and succeed, a community becomes more
attractive to the so-called “creative class” – it becomes a magnet for
invention, technology, human capital, diversity and innovation.
I have charged the
Bellarmine University community to take this bold new vision and, with
focus, intensity, resolve, passion and commitment, to imagine it, to
believe it and, working together, to create Bellarmine as the Premier
Independent Catholic University in the South, and thereby the leading
private university in this state and region.
I now ask YOU to
imagine what the realization of this vision would mean to Louisville
and Kentucky, to believe that we can do this – as evidenced by our
growth and success over the past 15 years – and to help us create this
historic transformation, for this and future generations.
It is time for the
private higher educational institutions in Kentucky to step up, to
create competitive and distinctive edges with each other and with the
public university system in the state. The former paradigms simply do
not suffice. If we all maintain the status quo and do not feel
compelled to achieve better results, we will not accomplish what we hear
asked of us in conversations with the leadership of the city and the
state. We believe Bellarmine’s time is now, and we believe our Vision
2020 is absolutely necessary for the economic success of the city and
the state. We ask you to support us in meeting this challenge.
Thank you! Are there