By NICK BUDD
As thousands of students began filling dorm rooms and apartments on the Fort Hays State University campus in anticipation of the first day of school on Monday, President Mirta Martin offered her first State of the University speech at the annual fall convocation. Martin said the American Dream ultimately brought her to higher education and helped her obtain the presidency last May.
“My own story, and many of the stories here today, are an affirmation that the American Dream is alive and well today,” Martin said. “The exceptional combination of determination, hard work and opportunity that allows anyone and everyone in this country to shape his or her future. … I’ve never known a more empowering idea.”
Martin made her mark on her inaugural convocation quickly — the price of admission was a nonperishable food item to help stock the FHSU food pantry for students in need.
Martin also talked about FHSU’s “21st century” approach to higher education. Recently, the political science and teacher education programs at FHSU have received national accolades. Martin said that she has met officials and professors from other institutions that haven’t picked up the next-generation approach.
“In other institutions, I have met professors who do everything they can to avoid a computer. I’ve spoken to other administrators who brag about never using social media. I have seen other institutions recoil at the mere mention of online learning,” Martin said. “But that’s not the case here. Your enthusiasm and success in bringing 21st century lessons for students using 21st century technologies inspires me. While other universities have built towers, FHSU has erected two wind turbines.”
According to Martin, the turbines save the university approximately $1 million in energy expenses each year. Martin noted that both these and other next-generation approaches will help the university “meet the needs of students and employers that (FHSU) serves and grow the reputation of the university as a difference maker.”
At the annual event, the new president also spoke about what brought her to FHSU. She told the faculty and staff members that there was something “exceptional” about the institution.
“(There is) an entrepreneurial energy, a sense of family, a commitment to academics and student success and a valued preposition, a commitment to service,” Martin said.
She also charged members of the university to become “active ambassadors” of FHSU in order to make the university the destination of choice for faculty members, students, nonprofits and other businesses.
“It is because of the family in this room that creates the FHSU experience,” Martins said. “I pray that this academic year is filled with new beginnings where we can find what energizes each of us and inspires us to improve the human condition.
“Let’s build the university of the future; a university that is a family. We are the family of Fort Hays State University.”