Lucas Corbin reporter
When he assumed office in June of 2022, President Dan Shipp had made big promises to Pittsburg State University staff, faculty, and students. At the end of his first academic year, Shipp’s many accomplishments have been and will continue to be felt by the community.
As he was lobbying the Kansas Board of Regents for the votes to become President of the University, Shipp spoke of implementing an Associate of Arts degree for students that complete the first two years of their education. Throughout the current academic year, Shipp’s office successfully created a program which will begin granting the degree to current students in the fall of 2023 and will give the degree to students no longer enrolled at the university soon after that.
“The architecture of higher education sometimes works against students,” Shipp said to the University Faculty Senate in January. “There are hundreds of students that are earning that, but we’re just not conferring that.”
Shipp has stated that he hopes that seventy percent of all PittState attendees will receive an Associate of Arts Degree. Currently, the University has a fifty percent drop-out rate before the attainment of a four-year bachelor’s degree.
Shipp is aware of the university drop-out rate. In a letter published by the Collegio during the first week of the 2022-2023 academic year, Shipp announced that he would be putting students first in an effort to promote education and ensure the graduation of students.
“My/our leadership team’s clear focus will be on advancing student success and helping support your path to graduation,” Shipp said in that letter.
In his first year, his office successfully created and passed a strategic plan to ensure that current students are given the tools they need to be successful in and around campus.
“So many times, universities miss the point. Once students are here, how do we ensure that they get to the finish line,” Shipp said, speaking about the goals of his strategic plan. “Over the next year, it will be a strengthening of the programs and services in the Axe library… and renovations in the Student Center.” The plan also offers changes to academic advising and will set the focus of the university for years to come.
Shipp’s theme of ensuring that his students reach graduation is unwavering. Later this month, he will depart on an eight-hundred-mile bike expedition; he hopes to raise eight million dollars during his travels. Money raised will go towards the student endowment, which helps offset tuition costs through scholarships.
The Kelce College of Business will soon be migrating downtown following Shipp’s diligent work securing the land rights and majority of the funds. The project, which will be a two-story pavilion that utilizes the already existing Colonial Fox Theatre and Besse Hotel, is a fifty-million-dollar partnership between the university and its foundation, the Kansas Board of Regents, the Kansas Department of Commerce, and the Pittsburg community. Shipp hopes the building will be finished within the next three years.
“We pivoted to do two years of work in two months,” said Shipp regarding the college.
Shipp met with over seven hundred students and faculty members throughout his first year. In the conversations he had with university affiliates, he was reassured and impressed with the university’s dedication to community involvement.
“Every college or university that I’ve worked at always makes a big deal about the connection to the community…” Shipp said. “I think that here it really is the truth.”