It seems so hard to believe how fast time moves in our lives. It has already been about two months since we celebrated the start of another academic year at William Woods with our Ivy Ceremony back on August 17. It is of course a time-honored tradition at The Woods in which we welcome our new set of freshmen to the WWU community, an occasion that holds a special place in the 147-year history of our beloved institution.
The entire process is one that has played out countless times in years gone by, which we will always cherish because it illustrates what a rich past William Woods has.
Of course, in these incredibly competitive times in higher education, particularly for smaller, private liberal arts colleges and universities like ours, it is not enough to merely have a storied past. That is why here at The Woods we are equally excited about not only where we have been, but where we are going.
About one month into this new school year, we were honored with the highest ranking William Woods has ever received in the annual U.S. News and World Report college rankings. For 2017, WWU was ranked at number 75 among regional universities in the Midwest, a category that includes hundreds of colleges and universities in 12 states. This represents an improvement of 16 slots over our 2016 ranking, and places only five institutions in the state of Missouri that are ranked higher than William Woods.
We are proud that a reputable, national source like U.S. News has noted the incredible progress we have made as an institution over the past few years, which is reflected in this lofty ranking. We have continued to flourish in the competitive higher education world by emphasizing creativity, innovation and old-fashioned teamwork, and will always adhere to those principles. The results can be found in other impressive numbers beyond rankings.
Numbers like our enrollment increasing from 750 in 1990 to more than 2,100 students attending WWU today. Or our university endowment increasing nearly 250 percent, from $5.7 million to nearly $20 million, since 1990. Or the graduate level, online and study abroad programs we have added. Or how we have eliminated our long-term debt and maintained operating budgets in the black for 15 straight years. Or the infrastructure and capitol improvements that have exploded on our main campus in Fulton, including the construction of ten new major buildings. The list goes on.
This is my 28th year as president of William Woods, and I could not be more proud about what we have accomplished in our past, nor more excited about what’s coming in our future. If you are an alumnus or supporter who has not been on our beautiful campus for some time, I invite you to come back home to visit us. We will remember our glorious past, while knowing that the best is still to come for William Woods University!