This fall is a particularly busy one on campus as we have been working actively on our funding requests to the Legislature. On September 16th we were part of the Texas Tech University System delegation to Austin to present our priority requests to the Legislative Budget Board. Our number one request to the Legislature is to fund a building to house our newly organized College of Nursing and Allied Health. Given the critical need for health care professionals and the shortage of graduates to meet increasing demand, we are very optimistic that funding for the building will be approved in the spring legislative session.
While optimistic about the new building we must also be realistic about funding challenges in the state. First, the recent credit crisis occasioned a letter from the Governor asking each state agency to review its funding requests and look “for other opportunities to rein in expenditures…” Second, the Gulf Coast damage from Hurricane Ike has presented the state with some additional fiscal challenges. Third, as I mentioned at Convocation, because our enrollment remains flat our percentage of state formula funding continues to decrease. These challenges make even more important everyone’s participation in the evolving ‘zero based’ budgeting process to best allocate our resources to achieve our enrollment growth goals.
Recently, ASU has received two major National Science Foundation (NSF) federal grants. First, a $1.16 million NSF grant was awarded to Dr. Paul Swets to develop a new national model for training mathematics teachers. Second, a $163,670 NSF grant went to Dr. R. Gary Pumphrey to study the impact of increased ethanol production on water usage in the Ogallala aquifer. These grants are excellent examples of how to infuse research into our teaching while still maintaining the institutional focus now being defined by our revised vision and mission statements.
Finally, we continue to reach out to create new partnerships with the San Angelo community. The October 14th ribbon cutting at the San Jacinto School Health Clinic marked the dedication of a new 3,100-square-foot facility at the site where the Department of Nursing has provided children’s health care services for 16 years. The greatly expanded facility will now allow the clinic to extend its services to families as well as offer exercise and cooking classes. This fall we also moved the Homecoming Parade from campus to downtown to partner with the Downtown Association’s Wool Parade and allow more people to enjoy the floats and related activities.
So, let me thank everyone for a great fall on campus and note that challenges are best overcome by the type of spirit which makes ASU such a special place for us all.
Joseph C. Rallo