New York, NY, November 5, 2008 -- Pointing with pride to the hundreds of thousands of students — “full of ambition, eager to leave their mark” — who have been touched by the John Jay experience over the years, President Jeremy Travis opened his first State of the College Address by reaffirming the College’s core mission of educating for justice. He reviewed the College’s “priceless assets” -- its storied history, an elevating public mission, dedicated faculty, highly motivated students and loyal alumni now serve as the building blocks on which a sweeping transformation of John Jay is taking place.
“The past four years have been a time of enormous change at John Jay,” Travis said. “We have all been working hard, in so many ways, to improve this institution that we love. We can take pride in the significant progress we have made toward becoming a preeminent academic institution. We should also be honest about the substantial distance we have yet to travel.”
Travis said the ongoing transformation consists of three interlocking initiatives — a fundamental change in the student profile, a historic faculty hiring initiative and the revitalization of academic programs.
• Changing the Student Profile
Admissions standards have been raised, partnerships have been created with community colleges to educate associate degree students, and new initiatives are being launched to improve student success, including retention and graduation rates. Recent incoming baccalaureate classes have increased, Travis noted. “Our experience is validating a powerful lesson learned at other universities. Raising admissions standards attracts more students.”
• Historic Faculty Hiring Initiative
The revitalization of the faculty is about more than just numerical growth. New faculty members joining the College’s ranks are “committed to scholarship that crosses disciplinary boundaries and energized by the opportunity to teach our students,” said Travis. Senior faculty members are editing prestigious scholarly journals, holding leadership positions in leading academic associations, producing critically acclaimed books and generating millions of dollars in research funding.
• Revitalizing John Jay’s Academic Programs
The revitalization of John Jay’s academic programs has unleashed “a remarkable burst of creative energy” on the part of faculty members and others who are rising to the challenge of creating “exciting new majors and minors” in a broad array of liberal arts disciplines. In addition, Travis said, existing majors are being revamped, the design of a new Honors Program is being finalized, an overhaul of the College’s General education curriculum is in progress, and a First-Year Experience is being created.
In looking forward, Travis noted that our next important challenge is to increase the retention and graduation rates of our graduate and undergraduate students. President Travis called for the College community to meet this challenge by setting the goal of raising “our 6-year graduation rate for baccalaureate students above 50%, and the 4-year rate for graduate students above 66% by the 50th Anniversary of the College in 2014.”
To read the full text of his remarks, click here.