Welcome back for fall semester! I hope you are as energized and enthusiastic about the new academic year as I am.
This is a great time to be a Horned Frog! Last month we learned that TCU has been listed among 42 Great Colleges to Work For by The Chronicle of Higher Education and ModernThink LLC, a leader in assessing workplace quality. As you know, U.S. News & World Report recognized TCU as a top 100 university and among the top 20 national “up-and-coming” schools last year, and we are looking forward to this year’s rankings, which will come out soon.
All in all, there is too much to include in just one letter. I hope you will explore the links highlighted in purple throughout this letter and below it to learn more.
We welcome the exceptional Class of 2015, selected from more than 19,000 applicants. At some 1,800, the class is roughly the same size as the last two years’ freshman classes. Nearly half come from out of state. Almost 41 percent of the class is male, which exceeds the national average. The University also welcomes its largest incoming international class, which numbers 200, putting the total number of international students at more than 700 — once again a TCU first.
We also welcome Dr. Kathy Cavins-Tull, the new vice chancellor for Student Affairs. She comes to TCU from Bloomington, Illinois, where she was the vice president for Student Affairs/Dean of Students at Illinois Wesleyan University. She replaces Dr. Don Mills, who has shifted roles at TCU to become Distinguished Professor of Educational Leadership in the College of Education.
TCU doesn’t slow down in the summer. Among the myriad of activities this year, we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the PianoTexas International Academy & Festival that brings talented young artists from across the globe to campus for master classes. The legendary pianist Leon Fleisher was among the many illustrious artists who took part in the event. Starting a new tradition, the Trinity Shakespeare Festival presented its first Camp Willy, a two-week Shakespeare day camp on campus for youths and teens.
TCU is a great place. But it can be even better. During this academic year, we will be searching for a Big Idea that will help unite TCU’s future efforts. Through the Quality Enhancement Plan – or QEP – we invite the campus community to focus on the theme of “Innovation and Inquiry.”
We will have the opportunity to share the great things we are doing at TCU and garner vital information about how to improve during a peer review of institutional effectiveness in March 2013, part of the reaffirmation of accreditation process. Preparations for the voluntary SACS accreditation process, which occurs every 10 years, are well under way.
The first phase of Vision in Action (2005-2010), TCU’s ongoing strategic planning process, has had a transformative effect on the University. Among the achievements of VIA phase one are higher graduation and retention rates, exceptional facilities such as the Campus Commons, a dozen new endowed faculty positions, academic programs such as the John V. Roach Honors College, enhanced opportunities for student research and new opportunities for global study. More about the first phase of VIA is available in highlight form.
The next phase of Vision in Action — or as it came to be known, Vision in Action - the Sequel — builds upon this strong foundation with vital new VIA initiatives that support an updated vision: To be a world-class, values-centered university. In addition, the popular Strategic Initiatives Fund (an annually budgeted fund to support innovation and entrepreneurial efforts) continues. More about TCU’s strategic direction is available in highlight form and full report.
The Campaign for TCU has exceeded expectations and underwritten scores of strategic Vision in Action initiatives. It is a great pleasure to announce that we have surpassed the $375 million campaign goal! With nine months remaining in The Campaign for TCU, gifts and pledges now total some $395.5 million. About $82 million has been raised toward the Campaign Scholarship Initiative’s $100 million goal.
This fall, extensive renovation of Erma Lowe Hall (formerly the Ballet Building) will be completed for the School of Classical & Contemporary Dance. The chemistry labs in the Sid W. Richardson Building have been renovated to state-of-the-art standards, part of TCU’s investments in upgrading teaching spaces and academic facilities. In addition, exterior repairs to Moncrief Residence Hall are complete. The renovation of Amon G. Carter Stadium — the west stands and north end zone areas — is on schedule, and the partially completed stadium will be ready for play at the season opener on September 17. A varsity weight room is also under construction for student-athletes.
Sustainability efforts will continue to be front-and-center here this semester. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, TCU is an industry leader, with an unprecedented number of LEED-certified buildings. The campus has grown by more than one million square feet, yet utility bills — despite rate increases — have remained proportionately stable. Even during this summer’s excessive heat, campus buildings are comfortable. A new, state-of-the art irrigation control system should reduce our irrigation water use by 35 to 40 percent each year. These are real savings to the University’s operating costs — and more important, to the environment. Learn more about TCU’s sustainability efforts and new recycling “Dream Machines,” a student initiative.
TCU is also helping to educate a new generation of “green professionals.” A team of TCU and University of Texas at Dallas students won the Undergraduate Educational Impact Award, a top recognition at the recent International Future Energy Challenge. Sponsored by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the competition focused on creating a stand-alone solar-powered water purification system. The product-oriented research required in this competition prepares undergraduates for real-world design and development.
We are continually searching for ways to increase the value of a TCU degree. Now TCU MBA students interested in health care careers have the opportunity to add a unique perspective to their education. The Neeley School of Business and the School of Public Health at the University of North Texas Health Science Center at Fort Worth have signed an agreement allowing students in both graduate programs to take courses to better prepare for leadership and management careers in health care. Learn more.
Another value-added offering is the new minor in Spanish for Health Professions. A collaboration between the Department of Spanish & Hispanic Studies and Harris College of Nursing & Health Sciences, the minor requires 21 credit hours, including two semesters of Spanish for Health. Students learn specific medical vocabulary, write medical histories, fill out medical forms in Spanish, and learn much more that will impact their interaction with Spanish-speaking patients. Find out more.
I hope you will be able to attend several important events this fall. On September 8, our Convocation and Founders’ Celebration will officially launch TCU’s 139th academic year. This year, a special feature will be the dedication of a historical marker at Jarvis Hall, our final event celebrating TCU’s 100 years in Fort Worth. This is one of four new historical markers recently placed at our oldest facilities. Then on September 17, we will reopen Amon G. Carter Stadium for the Horned Frogs’ game against the Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks. On October 5, the Fogelson Honors Forum will be centered on the common reading, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks.
With so many exciting developments on campus, it is sure to be a wonderful and productive fall semester! I appreciate the unique role you play in this special TCU community. Thank you for all your work on behalf of our great university.