Clarksville, TN – Some years move along at a quiet, steady pace, continuing the traditions and patterns of the previous year before quietly fading into the next. No milestones mark the passage of time, and people often find themselves bored or, worse yet, uninspired.
At Austin Peay State University, 2014 was not that type of year. The last 12 months passed with such speed, thanks to major changes within the University, that the campus community will likely remember this past year as a crucial time in Austin Peay’s progression into a leading institution of higher learning.
Here are some of the top stories that helped redefine Austin Peay in 2014:
On June 2nd, the Tennessee Board of Regents (TBR) named Alisa White as APSU’s 10th president. White previously served as provost and senior vice president for Academic Affairs at the University of Texas at Tyler, and she was selected after an extensive nationwide search. She replaced Tim Hall, who left the University in May to become president of Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
On September 13th, the new $19 million Governors Stadium officially opened. Thousands of eager APSU fans packed into the new facility for the season’s first home football game against the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. The new stadium, with its brick and synthetic stucco façade, features an 8,000-square-foot club level section, 13 luxury skyboxes and a seating capacity for 10,000 fans.
During the fall semester, the University unveiled the APSU Promise, a new program that guarantees scholarships to all TBR community college and Hopkinsville Community College graduates who have at least a 3.0 cumulative GPA. The new scholarship program aims to bring more high-caliber students to campus in the coming years. There is no limit to the number of APSU Promise scholarships the University will award this year.
In April, the University’s Athletics Department unveiled its new Governor Peay logo, created by Pennsylvania-based graphic design firm Joe Bosack and Co. A committee of University staff members, local businessmen and alumni spent months working on the effort to enhance the visual identity of APSU Athletics. The new, more competitive-looking logo is now a staple on the APSU campus and within the Clarksville community.
APSU expanded its degree offerings this year. The University received approval for a Master of Science degree in engineering technology, a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theatre and dance, a concentration in networking for the University’s existing Bachelor of Science in Computer Science and Information Technology, a concentration in hospitality administration for the Bachelor of Professional Studies degree and a minor in film studies through the Department of Languages and Literature.
The University also continued to show its support of the military in 2014. In August, the federal government applauded APSU for being the only school in Tennessee to implement the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ “8 Keys to Success.” That initiative seeks to help veterans succeed on campus. The University announced in late September that it was waiving online fees and technology access fees for active-duty military personnel taking classes at the Austin Peay Center at Fort Campbell. The decision was made after a recent change to the Department of Defense’s Tuition Assistance program caused these individuals to pay out-of-pocket cash for fees associated with pursuing a college education. Later in the semester, Military Advanced Education named APSU a top school in its 2015 MAE Guide to Colleges and Universities, and G.I. Jobs magazine named Austin Peay to its 2015 Military Friendly Schools list.
In addition to the above military accolades, the Austin Peay name appeared on several other “best of” lists in 2014. For the sixth year in a row, APSU’s Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society was named the best chapter in the nation, and the University’s Alpha Kappa Psi business fraternity was named the best chapter in the southern region for the fourth year in a row. The U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges 2015 ranking were released on September 9th, and APSU ranked 27th in the Top Public Schools, Regional Universities (South) category. And earlier this fall, the APSU College of Business’s Master of Science in management program was listed #32 in the country in The Financial Engineer’s 2015 Master of Management Rankings. APSU’s program was ranked among the top 63 graduate management programs in the United States.
For the third consecutive year, APSU was named one of the best colleges in the nation to work for by The Chronicle of Higher Education. APSU was the only public university in Tennessee to make the list. In all, only 92 institutions achieved “Great Colleges to Work For” recognition for specific best practices and policies. APSU won honors in nine of 12 categories, which put it on the list’s honor roll.
The University received several high-profile grants this year. The National Science Foundation awarded more than $300,000 to the APSU Center of Excellence for Field Biology to improve the infrastructure, utility and visibility of the APSU Natural History Collection. That collection includes more than 100,000 research specimens representing the state’s largest collection of amphibians and reptiles, the second largest collection of plants and a rapidly growing collection of fishes. It also features small collections of birds and mammals from throughout the Mid-South Region. EDCAUSE, a nonprofit association that supports the role of information technology in higher education, awarded APSU a $100,000 grant to expand and enhance its innovative My Future system. The system, unveiled in 2012, uses predictive analytics to help students pick majors in fields where they will likely find academic success.
On September 23rd, APSU officially opened the DeWald Livestock Pavilion—a modern facility that will provide a practical working and learning space for APSU faculty and students—at the University’s Farm and Environmental Education Center. The pavilion was named in honor of Dr. Ernie and Joan DeWald, who generously supported the project with a major financial gift.
Beth Liggett, APSU photographer, has created a photo gallery of the last year at APSU. The gallery is available here.