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University interests and concerns presented to the latest board meeting

Many students receive university updates through their email, yet there is a wealth of information that is a bit trickier to locate and takes more initiative.

Last month, TWU’s Board of Regents held a regular meeting here on the Denton campus to discuss numerous agenda items, regarding academic affairs, finance, and campus improvement. After sifting through the public agendas, which can be located by searching “Board of Regents,” from the TWU homepage, clicking “Meeting Broadcast and Agenda” and selecting the date of interest, students, anyone in the TWU community, or even just curious internet surfers, can find information discussed in these meetings.

Within this article, a handful items presented in the Feb. 15 and 16 Board of Regent meetings are addressed and discussed on a superficial level. Check future issues of The Lasso for more in-depth articles regarding a few of the high-interest happenings mentioned here.

All of the following information is attributed to the mentioned agenda coversheets and handouts available on the Board of Regent’s website.

Academic Affairs Committee

Assistant Professors of English Dr. Gretchen Busl and Dr. Ashley Bender received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for their work “Incorporating Global Perspective.” This will expand the university’s ‘discover’ strategic imperative and increase global perspective involvement among students. See page three to read an article regarding this grant awarded to Busl and Bender and how these professors are planning on using involvement to enrich students’ experiences at TWU.

To increase faculty contribution to the university, in the form of professional development, research and creativity leave is available. Once the process is completed, requirements are met, and approval by both the Faculty Development Leave Committee and the Academic Affairs Committee is granted, faculty can take some time off to focus on their areas of interest. Once approved, the faculty may request full pay for one semester or half pay for two semesters. The AAC approved all eight faculty members’ leave recommendations, all of which requested a full pay for one semester, which will have a $56,687 fiscal impact on the university.

The Honorary Degree Committee unanimously recommended Sue Bancroft, Former Board of Regent chair and investor in TWU, for an Honorary Degree. According to the nomination material, the nominators included Vice President for Student Life Dr. Monica Mendez-Grant, Cornaro Professor of English Dr. Phyllis Bridges and Director of Government Relations Kevin Cruser. Bridges noted in her recommendation letter, that this honorary degree of Doctor of Laws is a “very rarely given recognition at TWU” and that within TWU’s 116-year history, there have only been 10 awarded. In her recommendation letter, Mendez-Grant shared, “Sue Bancroft has come to exemplify the best characteristics of a visionary leader in whom success and services are inseparable…” In June of 2017, Bancroft and her husband, Christopher, invested $2 million “toward creating programs focused on cultivating women’s leadership opportunities at the university,” according to a TWU press release from June 2017.

Finance and Audit Committee

There are many projects in the works on the Denton campus, all of which are in various stages of construction. The parking garage, which is located on the west edge of campus, is slated to be completed in October of this year. Along with 600 parking spaces, the structure will also house DPS, Human Resources, and retail venues, to be determined.

Construction on Hubbard Hall will begin this month, March, to renovate and expand the space, which will house the new student union. The project, budgeted at $54.5 million, is scheduled for completion in August of 2019, with a move-in date of September 2019. To accommodate for the soon-displaced Student Health Services (currently located in Hubbard Hall, along with DPS), renovation of Jones Hall is also scheduled to begin this month, with a quick turn-around completion date of July 2018.

Another new structure in the works for the university is the Science and Technology Learning Center, currently in the design and development phase. Placement of departments, including Biology, Chemistry, and Food and Nutrition, have been proposed, however, not finalized. The project budget is $51.4 million, and construction is planned to begin in December 2018, with a potential move-in date of May 2020.

Enrollment trends and retention discussion was presented to the FAC for the Spring 2018 semester (preliminary data, only) and compared to other Spring semesters. Enrollment and retention is currently an area of high-interest to TWU administration, which is why the following data is interesting to analyze. Current TWU students may not see the relevance in enrollment and retention presently, but future alumni, who will may dedicate time and resources to the university in the future, may be interested in this information to compare to past and future trends and see how their potential contributions could be best allocated to TWU.

The headcount from all three campuses combined for the Spring 2018 semester is 14,451 students, encompassing all undergraduate and graduate students, regardless of full-time or part-time status. The breakdown among the Denton, Dallas, and Houston campuses are 11,906, 1,333 and 1,212 students, respectively. Each campus has a slight decrease from the Spring 2017 semester enrollment, totaling 202 (129 of which from the Houston campus).

Among the total enrolled student population of 14,451, the total amount of undergraduate students enrolled is 8,908; the total amount of post-baccalaureate students enrolled is 652; and there are 4,890 graduate students enrolled. When analyzing the total headcount numbers within undergraduate students broken down into each year, the percentage change fluctuates. The headcount for first-year students has decreased by 3.10 percent from Spring 2017 to Spring 2018, however the sophomore headcount increased by 8.52 percent. Senior students make up a majority of the undergraduate population; however, for Spring 2018 semester, enrollment is down 5.19 percent from Spring 2017 semester. Enrollment of post-baccalaureate students increased 6.01 percent between the 2017 and 2018 Spring semesters. Total student enrollment across the board decreased by 1.5 percent.

As previously mentioned, the BOR meetings are regular; usually two to three take place annually. These meetings take place over two whole days and to include all of the information in an article could potentially fill up an entire edition. To learn more information, and additional depth of mentioned topics, visit the BOR website and navigate through the wealth of information, and that will make for a more engaged, invested experience as a student at TWU.

 

As seen on page one and continued on page three of The Lasso Vol.104, Iss. No. 8, printed on March 7, 2018.

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