First Virtual Homecoming State of the University With President Butler
By Grace Tevaseu, Correspondent
This 2020 Annual Homecoming encompassed numerous virtual activities for students and alumni alike. The week included webinars, an international reception, an industry expo, an aerial display, the State of the University, and even a Happy Hour.
On Oct. 13, 2020, ERAU President P. Barry Butler hosted the State of the University via Zoom. Over three thousand students, staff, faculty, and alumni were in attendance From the get-go, it was clear that the presentation targeted alumni, based on the immediate identification of campus updates and the exclusive references to the positive changes of the university.
Butler spoke briefly on the university’s response to COVID-19, saying that “things are going quite well as an institution,” with the many initial cases decreasing over the summer. The State of the University is representative of a full calendar year worth of information to give alumni, so many were surprised that Butler spoke about COVID’s impact on students for only 10 minutes of an hour-long presentation. However, he reassured the audience that the university and the student body is “doing quite well”.
Butler continued on, stressing the importance of the five goals of the university’s strategic plan for combatting the coronavirus. He emphasized that “all [five goals] are focused around student success. We look at enrollment management, global strategy, philanthropy, and research but student success is really at the center.” Through these pillars, Butler defined and elaborated on current student interests and opportunities. He covered all major points, from high school programs to Veteran transitional programs to opportunities for women and minorities.
To promote the institution’s “common synergy”, Butler wisely brought it back to the origins of the university, aviation. To my surprise and joy, he brought up newer majors that unite the university, like “aero-cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is related to our (aviation) profession. That touches all of the colleges.”
Lastly, Butler finished his presentation with pointers about online resources and general updates. For example, Worldwide recently built a new headquarters and Daytona Beach hired a new Dean of Business, with a search out for a new Dean of Engineering. Recognizing their immense support, Butler acknowledged, “The Board of Trustees continues to be incredibly supportive of our institution.”
To give credit where it is due, Butler is a phenomenal speaker. He was well prepared and catered his presentation to his audience. For the alumni, he highlighted the major changes to each of the three campuses, both physical and curriculum based. As a student who witnesses those positives of the university as well as the negatives, the State of the University sounded like a sales pitch.
Although in all fairness, it makes sense; alumni are potential donors for the betterment of the university and campus projects. In retrospect, the State of the University was a worthwhile, educational speech. I learned about the status of the other two ERAU campuses and had the ability to listen to our university leader speak.