It is an honor to have been selected as the 15th president of West Chester University, one of the top regional comprehensive public universities in the nation. We value and uphold our mission to provide the best educational opportunities possible which will enable the University community to successfully address the concerns of a global society.
Serving more than 17,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels, West Chester University has earned a national reputation for excellence, value and student success. WCU is one of the most sought-after universities in the mid-Atlantic region. We received more than 14,000 applications for the fall 2016 first-year class of 2,454. We are the largest state-owned university in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the premier state institution in such key measures as retention and graduation rates.
A proud moment for me, and for all of West Chester University, was on December 17, 2016, at Graduate Winter Commencement, when we awarded 23 doctoral degrees -- the first doctoral degrees conferred in the history of the University. WCU became a doctoral-degree granting institution in 2013 with the introduction of the Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP), which was soon followed by a Doctor of Public Administration, a Doctor of Education in Education Policy, Planning, and Administration, and more recently, a doctoral degree (Psy.D.) in clinical psychology. We expect to offer additional doctoral programs in the future. Distance education, both fully online classes as well as programs involving limited campus time, also is flourishing. Seats in distance education at WCU have increased 455% from three years ago.
Preparing our students to be global citizens is a key component of our strategic plan. More than 500 WCU students took advantage of international learning experiences last year. These included traditional study abroad programs, as well as participation in conferences, service learning, music performances and more. In June 2016, WCU launched an English-as-second-language program in partnership with ELS Language Centers, which should help to further increase international enrollment on WCU's own campus.
West Chester University also is dedicated to meeting community needs and placing students on a lifelong path of active citizenship. We strive to create a culture of service in which every member of the University community steps outside their own needs and commitments and works for the greater good. During the 2015-2016 academic year, WCU students participated in more than 694,000 hours of public service through service-learning coursework. Co-curricular programs and events generated an additional 93,000-plus hours of public service.
West Chester University has accomplished much in recent years and the future is even brighter. I encourage you to learn more about WCU via this website and to visit us in person in the near future.
Christopher M. Fiorentino