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January 2011 Letter to Campus

January 10, 2011

Welcome back to Angelo State University for 2011! I hope that the holidays were restful and allowed you to return to campus invigorated for what is shaping up to be a challenging year for public higher education in Texas.

In December we announced the appointment of Michael Reid as ASU’s new vice president for finance and administration to replace Sharon Meyer, who is retiring, effective March 1. Mr. Reid brings a diverse set of skills to his new position and will play an important role in addressing any challenges during the upcoming session of the Texas Legislature. We also announced last month the appointment of Will Wagner as our new head football coach. Coach Wagner was the assistant head coach at Northwest Missouri State University, a perennial D-II football powerhouse. He has the skills to raise our program to that level. These two appointments are important because they further demonstrate the ability of ASU to recruit such talented individuals to campus. This speaks highly about the reputation of our institution on a statewide and national scale.

The Texas Tech University System Board of Regents will hold its next meeting on the ASU campus Feb. 24-25, 2011. During that time regents will visit campus facilities, including our new Center for Security Studies (CSS). The CSS will host its first class for advanced intelligence analysts during that time, giving board members a sense of the potential of these programs and their role in achieving our enrollment goal of 10,000 students by 2020.

At the same time, January ushers in the start of the Legislative session, which must address a multi- billion-dollar shortfall in state revenue. ASU has already been directed to return $2,685,538 to the state to assist in covering this deficit. We have also been told to plan for future budget cuts, possibly up to 20 percent. While still in the preliminary stages of discussion, we must be realistic about how we approach what could be a very difficult period of time. For example, although ASU has registered record growth over the past year, so have the other public higher education institutions in Texas. So instead of receiving about $3 million per 500 additional students through formula funding, our likely increase will be closer to $2.67 million.

First, let me be clear that returning funds to the state will not be the focus of our attention. Instead we must continue to move toward our strategic goal of enrollment growth, which alone sets funding for our future. Even if we did not face economic challenges, our ongoing review process to determine which academic programs will be enhanced, maintained, monitored or closed would continue. Reallocation of faculty and other resources to support enrollment growth must occur in tandem with decisions on how to trim our budget to meet state mandates.

Second, I am committed to an inclusive, transparent process to develop recommendations on how to find the funds needed to meet our state obligations. The University Budget Advisory Team (UBAT) was constituted last November with representatives from across campus. Its mandate is to gather proposals, attach a dollar value to each proposal and prioritize options for possible reductions. Which options are ultimately accepted and implemented will depend on directives from the Legislature and guidance from the TTU System. Again, I must underscore that these recommendations are not designed primarily to return funds to the State, but instead to allow us to move toward our institutional goals of enrollment growth, student retention and success, academic rigor and a residential campus experience. Thus, at this time I do not envision a simple across-the-board reduction as an option, since this simply masks the need to review our programs to ensure they further our strategic goals. Simply put, the ASU that emerges from this review process must be one poised to achieve stability and success for the future in what will likely continue to be a period of economic stress for higher education.

While I realize that these topics engender anxiety, I also know that keeping lines of communication open and information flowing is critical to ensure campus awareness of these deliberations. Although the spring promises to be challenging, we will face whatever arises as a community joined by our common allegiance to ASU, its students, faculty and staff.

Joseph C. Rallo