Our strategic planning process, under the direction of our new Vice President, Dr. Jim Limbaugh, will build on the joint efforts of our planning groups from this past year. His goal is to have our vision, values and mission statements reviewed by our campus leadership organizations – Faculty Senate, Staff Senate and Student Government – in time to present them for approval by the Texas Tech University System Board of Regents at its December meeting.
The recently approved College of Nursing and Allied Health will be a central academic initiative in the coming years. Our request to the Texas Legislature for a new $43 million building to allow existing programs in nursing and physical therapy to expand, as well as to support new programs in related health care fields, will dramatically increase our ability to meet shortages in health care professions in Texas.
Construction on campus will intensify this summer with approximately $29.34 million in projects being started. The renovation of the Hardeman Building and the start of a new student recreation center, as well as an expanded dining facility in the University Center, will join the nearly completed Centennial Village residence hall. These projects are of vital importance to meet our most critical institutional goal – student recruitment and retention. These projects also represent a very dramatic and positive economic impact which will benefit San Angelo in the months and years to come.
Our athletic teams again had a superb year with our women winning the Lone Star Conference South Division softball championship and hosting the NCAA Regional Tournament for the second year in a row. Our newest varsity sport, women’s golf, is off to a fantastic start with the signing of several superb high school athletes.
Naturally, challenges remain. It is too early to determine whether we have been able to increase our student retention rates, especially in the critical freshman to sophomore year. While we were able to keep our increase in tuition and fees at modest levels, costs continue to rise beyond the ability of the state to increase public support to higher education.
Finally, we remain in a very competitive market for new faculty and staff hires, a situation which will be magnified as we pursue accreditation for our College of Business (AACSB) and our College of Education (NCATE), while also seeking more instructors to support the new College of Nursing and Allied Health.
The solution to challenges rests with individuals. Your dedication and professionalism were recognized recently as we recommended merit-based pay raises and equity adjustments to the Board of Regents. Clearly, ASU is blessed with highly capable, dynamic employees who will allow us to resolve any challenge as we move toward our institutional objectives. After one year on the job, I want to thank each of you for your energy on behalf of ASU, its students and our community.
Have a safe and enjoyable summer.
Joseph C. Rallo