President Larry Rice shared the positive impacts on students the RSU staff and faculty are working toward, amidst stifling budget cuts. He began by thanking those in the audience for their support toward RSU Foundation's recent scholarship fundraiser, Saddle Up for Scholarships. While official calculations are not yet complete, proceeds are anticipated to be over $100,000.
"I never thought I would be asking for a flat budget to higher education," he stated, urging those in attendance to also ask the same of those who represent them in the state legislature. RSU has been asked to prepare budgets for a 10 - 20 percent cut, in addition to the shortfalls that have already taken place.
Following highlights of positive programs, including the addition of their Masters in Business Administration program, President Rice then turned the presentation to newly named Athletic Director, Chris Ratcliff to share impacts of their NCAA Division II athletics.
Mr. Ratcliff began by telling the value of education and those that invested in his life. He was motivated to pursue a degree following the potential of a promising job, being sought after for his coaching talent. However, he lacked the required degree.
He acknowledged the success the 246 student-athletes, making up 14 athletic teams, have achieved not only within their sport but also in the classroom. "The student athletes have a higher academic success rate and graduation rate than the student body as a whole. They have also completed over 5000 hours of community service."
The audience expressed interest in expansion of athletic programs such as lacrosse. Ratcliff explained that during a budget crisis, athletics were often the first to be cut. He expressed confidence in their programs, with the exception of the being in a current situation to begin new programs. He added student athletes provide additional enrollment and non-scholarship revenue up to $2.7 million.
As the session closed, Ratcliff encouraged the audience with his personal mantra, a quote by Maya Angelou, "People may not remember exactly what you did, or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel."