One of the popular pursuits of those concerned with education today is determining outcomes. In other words, what was the return on the investment made in education? What resulted from all the teaching, learning and study that went on inside and outside the classroom? What did their education prepare students to do with their lives?
While it is not an exact science, there are a number of indicators that help to determine how well an educational institution is performing. A big one, of course, is employment, and the latest statistics we have indicate that our students have done very well. Employment for the Class of 2007 was more than 20 percentage points higher than the national average, and NU students went on to higher studies at more than twice the rate of graduates of other colleges and universities.
A recent report from the College of Arts and Sciences indicates that that trend is continuing. Nine of this year's graduates of the college are going on to Ph.D. programs, including one chemistry major who has been offered a prestigious fellowship at the University of Michigan. All these students have received tuition, plus stipends, for teaching and research assistantships. Fifteen other students are going on to master's programs, several with full tuition. Surely, these are wonderful out-comes for the students involved.
As I thought about handing out diplomas to the Class of 2009, I couldn't help but wonder what the future holds for these graduates. They are entering the world of work at a very difficult time. With the nation's economy still struggling and unemployment rising, jobs are expected to be much more difficult to find. Ideally, the academic preparation our graduates received during their time at Niagara and the practical experiences they received through internships and service-learning placements will serve them well.
In light of the current job picture, I am happy to point readers to a special feature in this edition of the Eagle. It is a point-by-point guide to assist those who have lost their jobs as a result of the economic downturn. It was prepared by our Office of Career Development, which assists our students in writing resumes, preparing for job interviews, and finding internships.
I also would like to recommend another story that says much about a Niagara education, about employment, and about the added dimension of a Niagara education, namely, the inspiration to assist those who are in need.
When Ed Kampf finished dental school, he could have joined an established practice. Instead, the 1965 NU grad went to Appalachia, where he established a dental practice for the underserved residents of that poor region in West Virginia. Since that initial experience, he has left his practice from time to time to help people in remote and impoverished areas in Central America and Mexico.
Ed Gardner of the Class of '87 says the ideals he was exposed to at NU have had a marked influence on his life. While on assignment in Iraq, he freely distributed soccer equipment to children there. The items were collected back home by students in his children's school. Ed's work as a forensic artist for the Naval Criminal Investigative Service is the subject of a very interesting feature in this edition of the Eagle.
There's another story I would like to tell about Tom Looney. He faced an employment picture similar to today's when he left Niagara in 1974. Before he left school, however, he had more than eight on-campus interviews and multiple job offers. He started working at IBM a week after graduation. Tom credits his Niagara education and an internship he had at The Carborundum Co. during his senior year for his success in landing a job right out of school. His is a story of the great hope the future holds for those who apply themselves and take advantage of the opportunities presented to them.
In April, Tom said some very nice things about his NU education at our Business Appreciation Dinner, where he served as guest speaker. He also presented the university with an unexpected, and very unusual, gift. It was one of the torches his company, Lenovo, developed for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. It will serve, he said, "as a symbol of Niagara's commitment to excellence and preparing students to compete in the global economy."
Ed Kampf and Tom Looney: Great outcomes and wonderful stories that provide comfort in the realization that there are many more like them in the making in the Class of 2009.
So I ask our alumni and friends to let us know of any jobs that might be available in your businesses or communities. Our graduates are bright, capable and eager to go to work to make a difference in the world. As always, please feel free to share your stories with me at email@example.com.