Open Letter to the Unity College Community
January 14, 2016
Unity College Family and Friends,
As I begin my term as Unity College President I want to express my appreciation for your ongoing support of this office and for me personally. Having been part of the Unity community for three years and understanding the challenges and the opportunities, I approach the role of president with a sense of responsibility and with real enthusiasm. The Presidency of any education institution is an immense responsibility, but the Presidency of America’s Environmental College comes with duty like no other. Every college and university shares core commitments to student knowledge, skills, and dispositions that will help them succeed and contribute to society.
But Unity College is not just any college. Unity College is different. In addition to the core commitments every college shares, Unity College has accepted the further responsibility of preparing our graduates to help solve the most pressing environmental problems of the twenty-first century. Biodiversity and habitat loss, water insecurity, deforestation and natural resource depletion, increasing frequency of catastrophic weather events, climate change, lagging political solutions and sense of social urgency, and the national and global security issues that attend all of the above — there are many, many, problems to solve.
But there is also hope. Unity College graduates are hope. Unity College counts problem-solvers among the ranks of our community: professionals who are developing solutions to many of the problems I just listed. But more than that, Unity College faculty, staff, alumni, and partners are preparing our graduates to be problem-solvers themselves. Our forward thinking faculty made Unity College the first college in the world to adopt Sustainability Science as its educational framework. Sustainability Science puts the problem at the center, identifies the multi-disciplinary resources needed, and applies those resources to implement real world solutions.
And whereas other colleges are hoping to survive changes to the industry of higher education, Unity College is prepared to thrive and flourish. With national tuition increases outpacing economic growth, challenges to the value proposition of higher education, disruption in the industry, and the closure of seemingly solid institutions, higher education has entered a period of change and challenge. Survival is on the minds of most new presidents that I’ve met. And yet, Unity College is financially, programmatically, and strategically positioned to do more than survive. Recent successes are only the beginnings of a thriving Unity College.
Financial highwater marks include three consecutive years of record enrollments, while maintaining student preparedness standards; a 35% increase in the annual operating budget; a 300% increase in annual fund giving; and a 10.7% increase in annualized return on endowment while being the first institution of higher education to divest its portfolio from fossil fuels. Recent infrastructure improvements include two $4.4 million dollar fossil fuel free residence halls; a $1.1 million cafeteria expansion; and a $6 million expansion project for fall 2016 that includes an academic building with classrooms and a student success center, and new residence hall for first year students.
Unity College is a singular institution with a unique educational framework, a community like no other, and a world-changing mission. I begin my tenure as Unity College President with both gratitude and humility and look forward to serving with you, the members of our extended Unity College community.
Dr. Melik Peter Khoury
President Unity College