Dr. Fulcomer: Leaving a Legacy of Stability and Growth
People know Rockford University as Rock Solid. And President Eric W. Fulcomer, Ph.D., helped us get there.
Dr. Fulcomer has spent nearly 10 years in leadership at Rockford University, first as Vice President of Enrollment Management; then, beginning in 2016, as the university’s 18th President.
While overseeing enrollment, he put Rockford University on a course for consistent, sometimes record-breaking numbers in undergraduate, graduate, and degree-completion programs.
Early in his tenure as President, Dr. Fulcomer led a strategic planning initiative to align all stakeholders in identifying and achieving priorities for the university’s success. That plan became the roadmap for vitally important and successful initiatives.
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During his six years as president, he has helped solidify the university’s financial footing, enhance its community presence and partnerships, realize consistently strong enrollment, and navigate the unprecedented challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
From the start, Dr. Fulcomer had big goals. He oversaw a major capital campaign that concluded in 2018 having raised $18.4 million, more than $1 million over the initial goal.
The success of the capital campaign facilitated a multimillion-dollar investment in campus improvements. An addition to Seaver Physical Education Center now houses a new fitness center and renovated classrooms for a growing kinesiology program. Other improvements include renovations to the Starr Science Center; upgrades to residence halls; and significant improvements in campus infrastructure, technology, and the student experience.
Rockford University’s Board of Trustees credits Dr. Fulcomer with creating a culture of strategic planning, sound governance, and a high-functioning executive leadership team. He helped create an improved governance model for the Board of Trustees that is being utilized effectively still today. All of this contributed to enhanced enrollment, student involvement, donor development, and alumni engagement.
While Rockford University has navigated many challenges in its 175-year history, no one could have predicted how the COVID-19 pandemic would upend daily life for everyone. During the pandemic, Dr. Fulcomer supported students, faculty, and staff to manage campus safety and transition learning so that students had the flexibility to continue coursework without interruption.
Working with regional higher education partners, Rockford University implemented new agreements with area community colleges that enhanced transfer of applied credits for undergraduate students. From this, accelerated degree partnerships were created with Rock Valley, Kishwaukee, and Highland colleges.
The university also has welcomed Rockford Public Schools (RPS) graduates through the Rockford Promise Program for the past few years. A “grow your own” program was created with RPS that prepares graduates to become teachers. Those students earn their undergraduate teaching degrees from Rockford University. After they begin their teaching careers at RPS, they return to Rockford University to pursue graduate degrees.
One of the most exciting areas of growth in recent years is the Bachelor’s Degree Completion program, an online offering with three majors in business management, accounting, and human services. The flexible format means online classes can fit into a busy schedule, allowing students to study close to where they live and work.
It’s been an honor to have Dr. Fulcomer at the helm of Rockford University during our 175th anniversary this year. When he first started, the campus had undergone a major shift in changing the name from Rockford College to Rockford University. He has helped nurture that change to better represent the institution and our degree offerings for students, including the opportunity to complete graduate work and increase enrollment for international students.
These milestones and more created the path that got us to 175 years. We continue to celebrate our successes and look forward to our bright future.
Rockford University is stronger and more successful because of Dr. Eric Fulcomer. That Rock Solid footing is complemented by the meaningful connections made during his tenure with faculty, staff, students, alumni, friends, and community members.
His achievements are numerous, and his legacy leaves the university heading in a positive direction for years to come.
Because student success has been the primary focus of the president, a named endowed scholarship, the President Eric Fulcomer and Mrs. Andrea Fulcomer Endowment, has been established. Your gift will honor President Fulcomer’s legacy of leadership and dedication.