The Clayton Chamber of Commerce honored Fontbonne University with its annual Cornerstone Award at a reception dinner Jan. 31.
The Cornerstone Award recognizes an individual or company whose contributions have had a major impact on the Clayton Community. The chamber recognized Fontbonne’s change in status from college to university, its strong and growing academic programs and its steady leadership.
“This is a great honor from the Clayton Chamber of Commerce. As Fontbonne continues to play a transformational role in the lives of our students, we also stand as a vital institution in this community, continually striving for excellence in all that we do,” said Dr. Dennis C. Golden, president of Fontbonne University. “We are blessed to have such a positive and important partnership with the City of Clayton.”
Excerpts from Fontbonne University President Dr. Dennis Golden’s comments at the Clayton Chamber of Commerce Annual Awards Dinner where Fontbonne received the “Cornerstone Award.”
In our quest for excellence at Fontbonne, we will continue to emphasize and prioritize to achieve academic excellence; realize that “good is not good enough” and do something about it; strengthen our “yes we can” aptitude and our “will to succeed” attitude; and believe along with our founders and sponsors, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet that we are all called to have a deep love of God and a deep love of neighbor without distinction.
In just the last decade Fontbonne has seen tremendous growth. Between 1996 and 2000, Fontbonne’s enrollment has increased from 1882 to 2924; OPTIONS enrollment has increased from 478 to 959; off-site locations increased from three to 11; we’ve added nine new majors totaling 32; graduate programs have doubled with 14 now offered; the faculty (full and part time) has increased from 143 to 241; the operational budget has tripled from $13 million to $39 million; NCAA teams jumped from nine to 16; endowed scholarships are up to 142 from 12; there are now 12 international agreements; and the U.S.News & World Report ranks Fontbonne in its 1st tier — up from the 4th tier in 1996.
Moreover, in 2002, we transitioned from college to university status and have received every accreditation for which we have applied and to which we are entitled.
In our world class Department of Communication Disorders and Deaf Education, our speech-language pathology graduate students spend a minimum of 400 hours doing therapy in our campus-based clinics, local schools, hospitals and rehabilitation centers.
Also, our deaf education students spend a minimum of 600 hours working with local children who are hard of hearing or deaf. Our graduate students in early intervention in deaf education spend a minimum of two semesters working with young children who are hard of hearing/deaf and their families.
The on-campus clinic also serves as a community clinic for infants, children and adults who would not have access to care because of lack of funding including those whose insurance will not cover these services. On an annual basis, the clinic provides approximately $335,000 in services had they been charged at fair market value. I call the speech pathologists and our faculty in deaf education our “miracle workers” and it is easy to see why.
The Department of Business Administration is actively involved with the community by bringing guest speakers to campus and some the most famous are in this audience tonight. In addition, our business students are actively engaged with SIFE (Students in Free Enterprise) through which they provide financial literacy seminars to many people including the women and men in our armed forces.
The Department of Education/Special Education has student teachers in the Clayton school system (which we know is outstanding) and many other school districts throughout the area including the St. Louis Public School system. We have also established a summer reading institute for area teachers. We had almost 100 teachers in the inaugural summer 2006 program.
The list goes on and on including community work done by our Departments of Math and Computer Science, Behavioral Sciences and Human Environmental Sciences.
Fontbonne has also contributed $375,000 of university money to a partnership with the Clayton public schools to upgrade Gay Field for long-term joint use by the Clayton and Fontbonne Athletic teams.
In closing, if I had to pick one word to describe what we do at Fontbonne it would be “transformation” because we change people’s lives forever.
As John Edward Masefield, the former Poet Laureate of England (1930 to 1967), said: “There are few earthly things more splendid than a university.”
“…wherever a university stands, it stands and shines…”
So, I thank the Clayton Chamber of Commerce for giving Fontbonne the chance to “stand and shine,” and I pledge to you this evening that we will continue our quest for excellence, the results of which I trust you will find to be nothing less than outstanding!