Points of Pride 2006-16
In 2010, Salem State College became Salem State University, a legislated change in status which reflected the large, comprehensive institution the university had become. University status brought greater recognition to the high quality of Salem State’s academic programs and the many accomplishments of its faculty and students. With the university designation, Salem State expanded academic programming grounded in the expertise of its faculty and designed to address the changing needs of its community and workforce. Among many highlights, Salem State’s School of Social Work was ranked #91 (of over 250 programs) by US News & World Report in 2016 and is the highest ranked public program in Massachusetts.
Increased Graduation Rates
Student success is Salem State’s key goal. From 2007 to 2016, the graduation rate for baccalaureate students increased 15 percentage points—the largest change in the state university system. Salem State’s six-year graduation rate for first-year freshmen increased from 37 percent in 2007 to 52 percent in 2016, with a graduation rate for transfer students at 67 percent. This growth reflects the exceptional efforts of faculty and staff to support students, and the university continues to set aggressive goals in the area of student success.
Salem State University is the most diverse public university in the Commonwealth with over 29 percent of the student population from underrepresented backgrounds. In addition, over 35 percent of students identify as first generation college students. Salem State is known for its culture of inclusion and, over the last five years, the university has expanded cultural and identity based programs and dialogues. Given population trends, the university is preparing to be a Hispanic Service Institution in future years. Salem State recently added a vice president of diversity and inclusion to the President’s Executive Council.
New State-of-the-Art Academic and Student Life Spaces
Changes to the physical campus over the past decade are profound. Nearly 760,000 square feet of new construction and renovations have been completed or are underway, bringing state-of-the-art academic and student life spaces to campus. Through the support of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and generous donors, combined with resources of the university’s operating budget, over $250 million has been invested in campus improvements. Highlights of these changes include the Frederick E. Berry Library and Learning Commons, the Sophia Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts, the Harold E. and Marilyn J. Gassett Fitness Center, athletic fields and courts, and two residence halls that provide accommodations for nearly 900 students. Efforts are currently underway to secure the Commonwealth’s support for a new science facility to meet the strong demand for science, health care, and technology programming.
In recent years, Salem State has shifted from a commuter campus to a more residential campus. Currently, one-third of the undergraduate degree-seeking population lives on campus, one-third lives in local neighborhoods, and the remaining third commutes from home. In addition to new residential facilities, Salem State has also added a new student life co-curriculum.
A Successful Comprehensive Fundraising Campaign that Raised Over $26 Million
In December of 2016, Salem State announced the successful completion of the university’s first comprehensive campaign. Exceeding its $25 million goal, over $26 million was raised during the campaign from more than 11,000 donors, with a remarkable 93 percent participation rate among faculty and staff. The funds resulted in the establishment of 48 new scholarships for students and much needed financial support for academic programs.