Summer campus update July 16, 2018, at 8:39 a.m.

Summer greetings to our Jacksonville University community,

As we advance through this ambitious season of activity on campus, I am reflecting on the outstanding work being done by so many of you at our University to determine and shape our own future. Allow me to offer an update:

1. We issued a historically successful University bond.

After two years of planning and development, we executed the largest bond offering of the modern era, placing nearly $150 million of Jacksonville University bonds at the end of May. These funds are being used to extinguish our existing bank debt and properly fund our highest-priority, highest-impact capital projects over the next three years. You can feel proud knowing that 34 of the largest investment firms in the world now own JU bonds, and – due to our improved financial performance these past five years – we received a remarkable $1.82 billion in requested orders for our $150 million offering (an impressive 12-times oversubscription). More on our plans for these funds in the coming months.

2. We successfully completed the $120 million ASPIRE comprehensive fundraising campaign.

Following six years of research, relationship-building and hard work, and thanks to the generosity of community friends, alumni, parents, employees and fans, this month we achieved our ambitious stretch goal of raising $120 million to support our campus-wide aspirations for the future. Hundreds of investor/donors believe so much in your work and our collective potential that their contributions have now surpassed our target in the largest fundraising campaign in our University’s history. More on this to come later in the summer.

3. We are continuing to upgrade our campus.

You will notice that our University is coming to life with new construction projects, consistent with our mission and focus. Completion of the Williams Hall residential complex, refurbished and updated classrooms and study spaces, a new Jacksonville Lacrosse Center (JLC), a new Athletics office and basketball practice facility, a new Academic Health Sciences Center, and a new Welcome Center at our front door represent more than $50 million in investment across our campus. In addition, under the leadership of Randy Freebourn and Jessica Ligator, we will be addressing many of our more pressing and long-standing maintenance and infrastructure challenges. Thanks for your input, cooperation and flexibility as we continue the important work on our classrooms, study spaces, buildings and grounds to create a better Jacksonville University.

4. We have a dynamic and energized leadership team.

We have now finalized our talented, high-performance team to lead us forward with our promising prospects, with a few new roles and some important new additions. These nine individuals form an outstanding Cabinet group reporting directly to the President. Briefly:

  • Dr. Chris Sapienza Senior Vice President, Interim Provost

    Dr. Sapienza is off to a fine start in her new academic leadership role, and will add new responsibilities in Renee Rossi’s Office of Research and Sponsored Projects, monitoring and tracking EPIC programming and funding. Dr. Sapienza will continue to work closely with Deans Bergman, Capener, Coyle and Snyder on improving operations, sharpening strategy, and conducting ongoing national searches for the permanent Dean positions in our College of Fine Arts and College of Arts & Sciences. She will be working collaboratively with the entire senior leadership team to ensure smart positioning of our academic affairs as our higher education environment continues to evolve. Dr. Sapienza is joined in her work by Associate Provost, Dr. Lee Ann Clements and newly-appointed Vice-Provost, Dr. Sherri Jackson.

  • Dr. Kristie Gover Senior Vice President, Dean of Students

    Dr. Gover will maintain her current broad portfolio of responsibilities leading Student Affairs, while adding our Career Resources Center (Toni Higgs) and Military Affairs (Mike Mitchell). She will also remain one of our most versatile and agile cultural leaders, heading up efforts as diverse as our improving retention efforts, Green Dot implementation, student housing planning, and leading DaVina Hamilton (Associate Dean of Students) and Jamie Burket (Assistant Dean of Students) as they assume their new roles.

  • Margaret Dees Senior Vice President, Economic Development and External Engagement

    After several years leading Marketing, Communications and key aspects of our vastly improved Admissions effort, Margaret has agreed to take on a newly-created leadership position, focusing on several promising developments: our downtown Jacksonville and Arlington footprint and economic development plan, our work with City Hall and City Council, our local legislative and statewide outreach, our coordination with the other higher education institutions in the region, and our exploration of several developing strategic partnership opportunities.

  • Randy Freebourn Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer

    Randy will maintain his current responsibilities, ranging from leading our banking relationships and facilities management, to Human Resources and Information Services. In his first year with us, Randy has proven himself to be a powerful relationship builder with outstanding subject-matter expertise and a collegial approach. His work on our recent bond issuance was truly exemplary.

  • Bob Stewart Senior Vice President, Enrollment Management

    I’m excited to announce that leading Enrollment Management will be Mr. Bob Stewart, who joined us this month, having held similar leadership responsibilities over the past decade at Stetson University and Spring Hill College. Bob brings to us a wealth of experience and a broad background to help us improve our engagement with undergraduates and graduate students. Enrollment Management will immediately bring together Admissions (Tom Taggart) and Student Financial Services (Tara Jones), which includes our Bursar (Bobby Brown) and our Registrar (Carolyn Barrett). We expect this natural combination of responsibility and talent to greatly benefit our students and faculty.

  • Alex Ricker-Gilbert Senior Vice President, Athletic Director

    Alex, one of only 32 Athletic Directors in the country to be invited to serve on the NCAA Division I Council, offering ideas and recommendations to the NCAA Board of Directors, has distinguished himself well in the past four years as our head of compliance and now leading all Athletics planning and operations. Hallmarks of his active leadership: outstanding success in the classroom for our student athletes, rising retention and graduation rates for this important cohort, and enhanced fundraising, sponsorships and extended coaching commitments.

  • Kimberly Jones Senior Vice President, University Advancement

    Our recent successes in revitalized alumni engagement and programming, student philanthropy, President’s Parents Council, named scholarships and sponsorships, corporate relations, estate planning and our improved interactions with foundations, institutions and corporations, are a direct result of Kimberly’s leadership and her team’s spirited execution. In addition, the administration of our comprehensive ASPIRE campaign, and its successful conclusion, are the work of the UA team, in close coordination with academic and athletic leadership on campus.

  • Scott Bacon Senior Vice President, Marketing and Communications

    As creative marketing, branding, communications, advertising and positioning provide us enormous upside as a fast-improving University, I am pleased to announce that Scott Bacon will be assuming these focused responsibilities. His transition with Margaret Dees is well underway, and I offer my thanks to both of them for accepting new challenges for the good of the University. Scott is a talented and engaging intellect with great instincts and a team orientation. His partnership style has paid big dividends in his Athletics External Relations role these past two years, and we are expecting even more of him in the future.

  • Diana Donovan Executive Director, Office of the President

    I am happy to note Diana’s move up to Executive Director, managing literally dozens of our highest-profile mainstream projects, including management of our innovative Presidential Fellows program and leadership of our successful graduate and undergraduate Commencement series. She will now also assume responsibilities for the University’s Community Relations programs, including the coordination of Charter Week.

So, in short: we have greater investment in our University than ever before, an outstanding leadership team of excellent faculty and staff with our students at the heart of every decision, and a lineup of impactful projects to make your campus even better. An encouraging outlook, for certain. On behalf of our Board of Trustees, I thank each of you for your dedication and hard work in helping create a premier University benefitting our undergraduates and graduate students, faculty and staff, alumni, investors, partners, community leaders and more.

Here’s to a memorable 2018-19 academic year.

With thanks,

Tim Cost
Jacksonville University
Class of 1981