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November 2009 Letter to Campus

November 01, 2009

I hope that everyone has settled into the new semester and can now look forward to the various holidays and activities associated with fall in West Texas.

All of us should be very pleased with this fall’s record student enrollment at Angelo State University.  We saw our second highest undergraduate enrollment and our largest graduate enrollment ever, while also achieving the required 25 percent Hispanic student population needed to apply for Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) status.  As I have regularly noted, our future as an institution depends on steady growth to achieve the 10,000-student goal set for us as part of the overall Texas Tech University System enrollment initiative.  At this time, I would like to share with you four specific actions now underway to achieve that goal.

First, we are building on the national recognition that comes from being named by Princeton Review as one of its “Best 371 Colleges” for 2010.  This recognition will be the centerpiece of our marketing initiatives geared toward both high school students and transfer students in community colleges and the military.  But, as I noted in my July letter, the image as well as knowledge about Angelo State University in the state’s population centers is incomplete and oftentimes inaccurate.  The TTUS Board of Regents in October approved a contract with Cohn and Wolfe from Austin to complete a study on how best to position ASU to compete for students in these vital markets.  Over the next few months, the consultants will meet with a variety of groups and individuals in order to recommend how best to craft an image and message for ASU to incorporate into its recruiting materials.

Second, we are applying to the federal government to have ASU recognized as a Hispanic Serving Institution.  While federal funding is one outcome of HSI status, so too is the ability to apply for additional significant federal grants, especially in the critical STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) fields.  Over the past few months, our faculty have secured major STEM-related grants, but significant opportunities remain.  At the October Board of Regents meeting, approval was given to hire Dowden and Associates, a Washington-based firm specializing in HSI and related grant opportunities, to enhance our ability to receive such funds.  While no guarantee can be given by Dowden, the firm has  an exceptional track record in receiving federal grants, totaling $500,000 or more, for their client institutions.

Third, we have received $2.4 million from the Department of Defense to begin the construction phase of our new Center for Security Studies.  A partnership between ASU and the Department of Defense, the new center will coordinate a variety of programs to augment educational needs at Goodfellow AFB for security and intelligence training, research and policy analysis as well as for cultural competency.  We expect significant additional annual funding to support the center, which will allow ASU to hire additional faculty, promote research and invite visiting scholars to expand the academic programs it will offer.  Shortly, construction will begin in the Academic, Rassman and Hardeman buildings on the specialized classrooms needed by the center for its various programs.

Finally, the demand for many of ASU’s exceptional programs is not limited to the campus. Earlier, we responded to a request from the Economic Development Corporation in Boerne to establish a regional presence in that community.  After extensive negotiations, we agreed to begin graduate classes in education and nursing in Boerne this January.  We have been provided with a state-of-the-art classroom and office spaces at no cost by the development corporation.  A full-time ASU representative has been hired to provide a full range of services to prospective students.

These and many other efforts designed to ensure the future health and vitality of Angelo State University depend, ultimately, on the dedication, creativity and hard work of our faculty and staff.  I want to thank you for these and many other initiatives undertaken on behalf of our campus and community.


Joseph C. Rallo