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Lander Positions Itself to Respond to Forces Creating Challenges for Education

Like other schools and institutions of higher education, Lander University is challenged by the economic uncertainty confronting the nation and its impact on the ability of schools to prepare students to thrive in a global economy. But, president Daniel Ball said the university is continuing to look for better ways of delivering educational opportunities.

In his State of the University address on Sept. 19, Ball said South Carolina and Lander must accommodate conflicting forces to become or remain competitive as a state and a university.

He said all colleges and universities are working with Governor Haley to define and implement Accountability Based Funding by which schools will be funded according to how well they perform based specific criteria. They are: graduation rate, access and affordability, economic development and job placement, accountability and transparency, and regulatory reform.

"Lander has specifically initiated efforts to address the future," Ball said. He cited a new campus master plan that would guide the university for the next 10 to 20 years. The plan calls for several new academic facilities and student housing to meet the existing and projected growth in student enrollment. Plus, he said, several residence halls have outgrown their usefulness and need to be replaced.

Ball added, "The master plan calls for upgrading and becoming healthier, both personally and environmentally, and more energy efficient."

He said Lander is in a very competitive market for recruiting new students and placing graduates and established the Office of International Programs as part of a focus on both issues. "We are recruiting students from all over the world … and creating international opportunities for our students from South Carolina and the U.S."

Ball spoke about exchange agreements signed in recent months with nine colleges and universities in Korea, China and Thailand. Four Lander students spent a six-week summer study program at Dong-A University and the University of Incheon, and Nicole Richardson, a mass communication major from Columbia, is the first Lander student accepted for full-time study in Korea.

Four Korean students are enrolled at Lander for the 201l-2012 academic year and five more are will be admitted in January.

Ball said academic development is foremost in the university's strategies. "We will be proposing at least three new degree programs next year based on the needs of our region, state and nation." Lander is also reviewing current degree programs to determine if they need to be restructured, consolidated or discontinued.

Another challenge facing education at all levels is improving student achievement which, in many cases, is tied to a child's home environment. Too often, he said, these conditions produce limitations that affect college students across the country.

Ball listed as continuing priorities for the university: maintaining and improving graduation and retention rates; maintaining and increasing enrollment; improving customer service at all levels; seeking new partnerships in the community, region and state and expanding Lander's Equestrian Center program and partnership with Burton Center.

He also welcomed 28 new faculty members, saying it is the largest group of faculty to join Lander at one time in many years.