Winston-Salem State University traces its history to September 1892 when our founder, Simon Green Atkins, began Slater Industrial Academy in a one-room frame structure with 25 pupils and one teacher. Today, we have more than 30 buildings with over 6,400 students and 500 faculty members.
Since coming to WSSU in 2007, I have seen how the legacy of Simon Green Atkins continues to provide the guiding spirit of the University. Just as his courage and determination led to a program that graduated African-American teachers, our programs today strive to meet the needs of the students and the communities we serve.
While our heritage comes from training teachers, we have broadened our perspectives over the years. Now more than 40 percent of our most recent graduates came from our School of Health Sciences that includes healthcare management and graduate programs in occupational and physical therapies in addition to our renowned nursing programs. In our School of Education and Human Performance we not only train teachers, we also provide students with an education in exercise science and sport management. The School of Business and Economics offers undergraduate degrees in business accounting and management information systems, as well as strong master degree programs in business administration and healthcare administration. And our College of Arts and Sciences provides the broad-based, liberal arts training that prepares students for careers in the sciences, languages, mathematics and communications.
We have recently finalized a new Strategic Plan that will guide us through 2015. The vision stated in the plan is quite simple: develop graduates of distinction known for leadership and service in their professions and communities and who are prepared to compete successfully in the global economy. The goals and strategies necessary to support that vision are far more complex.
To remain relevant in the very competitive higher education marketplace, we must constantly examine everything that we do - from the curriculum to customer service - and our thinking about and approaches to educating students must be flexible so that we can keep pace with the rapid changes that characterize the higher education landscape. We must not only look at what we teach, for example, but how we teach it. And we must have the resources necessary to provide our faculty, students and staff with the support that they need to complete their respective tasks.
Today's challenges are great, but so were the ones facing Simon Green Atkins in 1892. With his spirit and determination as our guide, I believe that we can continue to develop a Winston-Salem State University that not only survives in today's environment, but thrives in it.
So, join us today as we continue to celebrate our past and embrace our future.
Thank you for your support of WSSU.
Donald J. Reaves, Ph.D.