“We're in the business of helping young people grow and develop, to lead a meaningful life, and to have a useful and productive career,” he said during his early morning speech in the Malcolm Athletic Center. “Everything which contributes to that goal is part of our educational program.”
About 450 faculty and staff members heard Dr. Freed, 78, make his first public remarks since succeeding Kenneth Zirkle as university president on June 1.
Dr. Freed pointed to new dorm rooms, additional parking spaces, and renovations to a campus dining hall.
In June, the university completed its purchase of Winebrenner Village, a former nursing home now known as UF Village. The complex now has offices, 109 dorm rooms, 35 cottages for students, and space for the school's hospitality management program.
“It's a first-rate facility,” he said.
Dr. Freed also noted the opening of three classrooms, five offices, and a 750-seat auditorium - all available for university use - at the nearby Winebrenner Theological Seminary, which recently completed a $6 million expansion.
The new auditorium will allow the university to start a cultural events series featuring symphony performances and lectures by Nobel laureates and Pulitzer Prize winners, he said.
The facility “provides us with opportunities we simply have not had previously,” he said.
During the summer, campus officials also converted rooms in two dormitories - Morey and Myers halls - from double to single occupancy and nearly finished adding 300 parking spots on campus.
“The summer was certainly productive in preparing the campus and preparing for classes,” Dr. Freed said.
The university, a private school affiliated with the Church of God, opened in 1882. About 2,500 students attend classes there, including a projected freshman class of 730, the largest in the school's history. Tuition is $27,000 a year.
To accommodate the influx of new students, the university plans to hire some full-time faculty members, Dr. Freed said.
Kathryn Kelly, a spokesman for the school, said at least three positions have been authorized.
Dr. Freed told his audience that the university has had some years recently in which its budget was in the red but that overall the school's finances are manageable.
“If you have good teaching and concern for students, finances can be fixed,” he said. “We have good teaching and concern for students, and finances can be fixed.”
Ms. Kelly declined to release information about the university's finances.
Dr. Freed was president of Ohio Northern University in Ada from 1979 to 1999 and president before that of Monmouth College in Illinois. He has a doctoral degree in nuclear science and engineering from the University of New Mexico.