By Joshua Benton
Blade Staff Writer
BOWLING GREEN — After almost five years at Bowling Green State University, President Sidney Ribeau says he is close to his ultimate goal: making BGSU the premier learning community in the state of Ohio.
“We’ve accomplished a phenomenal amount of work,” he said yesterday, in his fifth annual State of the University address. “The future is ours to shape and mold.”
Before more than 400 people, Dr. Ribeau outlined the university’s accomplishments, from 14 All-Americans in intercollegiate athletics to sparkling new buildings.
He said many BGSU faculty and students don’t realize the size of what’s been achieved. “Sometimes we’re like the fish in the middle of the sea who doesn’t realize he’s in water,” he said.
Noting that he had “fewer gray hairs” five years ago upon his arrival at BGSU, he said some of the statistical improvements that have come during his presidency include:
* A growth in the university’s honors program, which has increased from 627 students in 1994 to 968 this year.
* A 3.5 per cent rise in overall enrollment, along with a 19 per cent increase in minority students.
* An increase in the number of major private gifts to the university, from 50 in 1996 to 170 in 1999.
* The appointment of 448 new faculty members since 1996, including an increase from 643 faculty members in 1998 to 723 in 1999.
In addition, Dr. Ribeau said that by 2003 the university will add more than 110 new tenure-track faculty positions.
Dr. Ribeau said he particularly is excited by the university’s upcoming infrastructure upgrade, which will cost about $40 million. Beginning in May, trenches will be dug all around campus to install a high-speed network backbone for the university’s computers, which will allow for more distance-learning capabilities and better use of technology.
But he cautioned, “Technology is a means to an end. It’s the people who make it work as education. … If education was just the transfer of information, then we would all be in trouble in 10 years, when you’ll just have to pull up something on the web. But education is more than content, and it always will be.”
Dr. Ribeau said BGSU will have to concentrate on planning for the university’s future. “Bowling Green State University is in a critical place,” he said.
“If you don’t have a plan for the future, my father used to say, you’ll end up somewhere, but it may not be where you wanted to be. … BGSU was a good university before I arrived, but we’ve got to complete the building process we’ve begun.”