Feyten’s plans, hopes and challenges thus far
By: Shelby Baker, Editor-in-Chief
I stepped out of the elevator to a seeming endless sea of periwinkle. Everything matched – the carpet, the walls, the furniture. Sunlight filtered in through every window. I had arrived at the 15th floor of ACT. I had been to the Chancellor’s floor before, but never past the reception area. You see, I had an interview with the Chancellor, but despite my weeks of planning, felt completely out of my element. In case you haven’t met or seen the Chancellor, she is a very tall woman, graceful, and finely dressed. I had just gotten out of class, my hair a mess, and wearing typical college student fashion. It’s easy for any one to see the differences between me, a student, and her, the Chancellor of TWU. But as I sat down and talked with her, the differences seemed to melt away. Because what started as an interview evolved into a delightful (at least on my part) conversation.
Q: What is your personal vision, idea, plan for your time at the university?
A: Well, I hope the time is long. Finishing my listening journey, starting to figure out in my head what are some distinguishing characteristics of TWU. We have a very special and unique niche – we are the largest university in the country, and maybe the world, predominantly for women, and that is really powerful. Something I’ve been thinking about a lot is the university is more than a place, it is a force. I really like this image that we are a force in the state, in the nation. Women can be a force and it is important for women to be a force in making change and in the state in terms of legislature. It’s important that they consider us a force in making things happen. The idea that we are more than just a place is really appealing to me. I’m planning on engaging the whole community.
Q: I recently attended Pioneer Panel, and it seemed to me that the top three concerns were the need for a new residence hall, the need for a student union and an increase in parking.
A: We just had a meeting actually with the students last week, with the student government association and student leaders. We talked exactly about that – here is the budget and here is what we need to do, so how do we prioritize? How do we drop a strategic plan for the whole university? I don’t think there is any question that we want to do all these things, but in what order.
Q: What do you personally want to see happen first?
A: God, I want to do all of it. It’s really a matter of also what we can do from the state, because the state has these specific rules about what money you can use for what. For example, you can not build a student union with state money or you can’t ask for state money to build a parking lot. Our fees and everything is really low, which means we can’t build up a lot of reserves so what we have now will just maintain what we have now, upkeep, maintenance, if we need to be fixing anything, but not enough to say we’re going to build a brand new thing. So that’s what we have to figure out.
Q: There has been very little heard regarding the UNT Collaboration in the past two years.
A: We are working fast and furiously on that. I just had lunch with President Smatresk last week. He showed me around campus and we talked a lot about the different areas we want to collaborate in. Programs joined in offering were we have strength and they don’t and vice versa, and even doing things together in the city. We have a few programs actually and at the graduate level there are quite a few we want to strengthen. I mean, it’s silly to think two great universities in the same town and not capitalize on each other’s strengths. He is very interested in some of the things we do, including athletics.
Q: French hasn’t been offered n the last few years and there are not plans to offer it through 2017, yet it is advertised. Do you know anything about this?
A: I haven’t delved deep into the curriculum yet, but I’d love to know more about that. I don’t know the histories on that or why that is, but obviously, as you know, foreign language is my field, so I am very passionate about that. But i will definitely follow up and find out about that. There might be ways to think on that creatively. How can we give opportunities for our students to learn French? Maybe there’s something we can do in collaboration with UNT.
Q: What are your impressions of TWU thus far?
A: I’ve been doing what I call my listening journey, where I go around talking with different groups of students, the faculty and staff, and people from the community. There has been amazing consistency in the message. Basically TWU is a warm, welcoming culture. People are very caring, and this caring seems to also extend to students. So the faculty really love the students and are very committed to the diversity on campus and very committed to the individual attention to the students. And the best art is that they [the students] were telling me the same thing. People are really anxious to being really involved in the community – the larger community, not just TWU, but Denton. I feel great support rom everywhere I go; people just speak so highly f the institution which is really a wonderful feeling.
Q: So how do you like Denton?
A: I love it so far. I have been discovering all these cool little places and restaurants. When I came to Texas, everyone told me everything is bigger and better. I can vouch that the welcomes are bigger and warmer.