Salisbury University (visited 4/26/19)
I was impressed with Salisbury; this is an amazing medium-sized institution located in a small city with a lot within walking distance. Campus is architecturally attractive with lots of upgrades, statues, and trees. When one of the new administrators came to Salisbury, he said, “The Academic Commons is better than anything I saw at Dartmouth.” One of the students said that SU is “the perfect size” both in terms of student population and the physical campus.
Academics are rigorous and well supported. “It’s a fun place, but it’s a serious task. It’s about adult life and figuring it out,” said one of the reps who is also a Salisbury alum. “We serve a wide range of students. We’re moderately selective. Some students are here ready to go … and then there’s the group who need to still figure it out and realize they actually have to study.”
Skill-building (critical thinking, writing, presenting ideas) is weaved into all programs, and faculty give early assessments to give students a feel of what’s expected and catch them if they flounder. SU has doubled the number of advisors to make sure students have access and guidance. They’re clearly doing something right; they have a strong retention rate and higher-than-average graduation rate.
Professors are highly engaged with students: “the interaction is different here. People actually transfer from College Park (the state flagship) where they’re only incentivized to do research. Here, they’re rewarded for their mentorship skill; that includes research but it goes far beyond that. This is a real gem.”
I asked the student panelists what their favorite classes were:
- Media and Terrorism: “We talked about different groups using social media to recruit. I took it because I had heard that the prof was good and it was awesome!”
- Stats through Baseball: “I’m bad at math but this was real life.”
- Leadership: “We get to connect with the community. Speakers come in and we can talk to other people.”
- “A class taught partially by Ghandi’s grandson! He taught about half the classes – the first few we discussed world problems like the war in Ireland. We read The Gift of Anger and talked about it with him. At the end of the class, groups took an issue from the book and did something with it. We had to decide what it was, so we could take a lesson that resonated and turn it into something like a painting or an activity to “find your worth” – it definitely made some people made uncomfortable.”
- Scriptwriting classes: “I never had a chance to do to that before.”
- “Geography was the most interesting class I’ve ever had. The professor was so passionate about weather. He’d go on rants about how cool tornados were. I started the semester in the back of the class. By the end, I was sitting in front.”
- Grant Writing: “It was practical and we could focus on what we’re interested in.”
- History of Africa Post-1865: “It wasn’t from an American viewpoint.”
There is a lot of new or renovated housing for students, including some “off-campus” apartments that are across the street. Those are open to any student so there are a few from the Community College and UMES, but “about 90% of them are from Salisbury.” Most freshmen (but only 1/3 of the 8,000 undergrads) live on campus; they’re trying to increase that, but with so much nearby housing, the campus is still vibrant and students are around. The food is amazing and it’s one of the nicest dining halls I’ve ever seen with lots of food stations and well laid-out seating areas in small pockets and rooms around a centralized location rather than a massive hall.
There are 4 academic schools, all endowed (unusual among public universities). They have several stand-out and/or unique programs:
- Liberal Arts:
- Science and Technology:
- Dual Degree in Bio and Envi Sci
- Physics: Students can focus on Microelectronics, Engineering Physics, or a 3+2 Engineering They aren’t there to wash people out. If the student meets the qualifications, they have guaranteed slots, but rigor is fairly significant. Usually 30-40 will start in a cohort; maybe 10 end up deciding that it’s what they want to do. Many switch to Computational Physics. They’re employed to look at many larger/non-specialized engineering problems.
- In addition to traditional Math, they can choose Applied, Actuarial Science, Computational Math, or Statistics.
- Geography/Geoscience includes Human or Physical Geography, GIS, and Atmospheric Science.
The Business School is the University’s smallest with about 1650 students. It’s dual accredited and has “Gated Admissions” (2.5 minimum GPA). “We do dismiss students if they get Ds.” Internships are required.
- Entrepreneurship is strong with one of the oldest competitions.
- Sales/marketing: Companies on the Eastern Shore pay to interview students on campus. “It’s not just a degree. It’s getting a job at the end.”
- Accounting: “We don’t graduate enough students. There are more accounting firms than we have students ready to graduate.”
- Finance students have to manage portfolios of $1m minimum. “You’re on a treadmill, and someone else is controlling the speed. You’re going to have to run.”
- International Business majors need to go abroad for at least 6 months; their internship must have an international component.
- Health and Human Services:
- Several Health Sciences are gated: students get accepted to SU, complete preliminary work, and then can get into the program. Respiratory Therapy and Nursing are capped at 24 seats for accreditation purposes. They produce the most Baccalaureate-trained Respiratory Therapists in the country.
- 3+3 Pharmacy: they hold 5 slots at UMES. Students usually need a 3.7 GPA to earn a spot.
- They offer Medical Laboratory Science and Applied Health Physiology as majors.
Students who have a 3.5 wGPA (4.0 scale) are eligible for test-optional admissions. They can be considered for additional merit money if they submit additional grades or scores. There are some competitive area-specific (like STEM) scholarships but students must declare the major on their application. On the website, students are encouraged to check out “Academic Works” and answer 10 questions to match with scholarships they’re eligible for. This CLOSES in mid-January, so do it early! The majority of scholarships are for incoming students; these are stackable to the merit scholarships given by admissions.