The “Opportunity of the Centennial”

In this issue of Lift, we commemorate the approach of Embry-Riddle’s 90th year as the world’s leader in aviation and aerospace education and training.

In my several roles that include professor, associate dean, associate chancellor, associate provost, chancellor, chief operating officer and now interim president, I have had the fortune of serving Embry-Riddle’s mission for 25 of those 90 years. In that time, as you’ll read in this issue, Embry-Riddle has passed many milestones while making steady progress toward the strong position we enjoy today.

It is from that strong, hard-earned position that we look to our future—a future that will be defined by the “Opportunity of the Centennial.”

Now, within a decade’s reach of our 100th year, we have the perfect opportunity to envision—and ultimately arrive at—where and what we aspire to be when that centennial arrives.

I believe that our progress in the next 10 years will be defined by how well we perform in four key areas:

  • Financial strength. Diversifying our revenue streams through an increase in philanthropic investment and research activity will control our costs while expanding our ability to prepare students and provide solutions to industry;
  • Leadership. Placing strong leaders at our campuses will reorient the President’s Office, allowing it to align and act upon external partnership opportunities;
  • Academics. Focusing on signature research areas, enhancing our most viable degree programs and providing enriched student life opportunities will prepare students for a healthy and prosperous life, characterized by civic engagement, discovery, adaptability and lifelong learning;
  • Globalization. Extending Embry-Riddle’s reach in the key emerging aviation markets in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East will allow us to equip students with the professional and cultural skills they’ll need to excel in today’s more technologically interconnected, globally competitive industry.

My goal as interim president will be to ensure that we make substantial progress in these areas as we “plant the flag” for the next phase of our growth and development. As alumni, you will play a vital role in this progress. Your achievements in industry and contributions to your university will help determine what our university will be in its centennial year.

And, if the last 10 years are any indication of what’s to come, we should expect to be extraordinary. I look forward to working with you as we begin this next great chapter in our university’s history.


John R. Watret, Ph.D., FRAeS
Interim President