Texas Woman’s University
Chancellor’s Address to the Faculty and Staff — “Thanks for the Memories”
Dr. Ann Stuart, Chancellor and President
Monday, August 19, 2013
TWU 2013 Fall Assembly for Faculty and Staff
Margo Jones Performance Hall
Thank you, Dr. Robb, for that kind introduction, and my thanks to the Provost Office and the Faculty Senate for granting me this opportunity to address you. As you can see, I asked that staff be included for this address. As most of you know, I have submitted to the Regents my letter of retirement. If all goes well with the search, this upcoming year will be my last year at TWU.
This address is my time to thank you for what you do, to remember what we have done together over the last thirteen years, and to anticipate some trends and challenges that you and TWU will face going forward.
Part of today is a walk down memory’s lane: some of you were here when I began this assignment in winter 1999; others joined TWU afterwards. Regardless, you are the only group with whom I can share this story, so I hope you enjoy the remembering as much as I did when I put this talk together.
It all began in the usual way — with the search. At the time I was president of Rensselaer at Hartford, a graduate school that is part of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute whose home campus is in Troy, New York.
When I accepted the presidency in Connecticut, it was for the Hartford Graduate School, an independent college. The situations at Hartford and TWU were not exactly the same, but similar. At Harford, we had to grow or close — as you would imagine, closing was not an option as far as I was concerned; yet growth — in order to be self-sufficient was a steep climb: so I analyzed our value and recognized that Rensselaer — one of the nation’s premier engineering and business universities — did not have an independent presence in Connecticut — a state rich with engineering and big business: United Technology is there — Aetna Insurance — Electric Boat, Hartford Insurance, on and on; so I put together a team, we developed a business plan for a merger and proposed it to Rensselear. It was accepted and the rest is a history of growth and success.
This photo is at the celebration following the signing of the merger agreement when we became Rensselaer at Hartford.
At TWU, the threat was not closure, but rather losing our independence and being placed in a system. We overcame and are stronger than ever.
Back to the search: Spencer Stuart was TWU’s firm. At the time — mainly because I had developed and executed a successful merger — a number of national search firms had me on their short lists — always for institutions needing an aggressive change agent.
Spencer Stuart contacted me and the rest you know.
Ray, I and Georgette and Honeybear I were off to Texas. At the going away party shown here, Rensselaer had contacted TWU and asked for some props — the hats, guns, and bandanas were part of that package. It was a lot of fun.
To give a visual of what we were leaving…this is a picture of our home in West Hartford the winter before coming here.
We had just brought home two puppies and they were not happy about outdoor bathroom or play time….
Texas seemed very attractive.
Anyway, when we arrived at DFW, Chief John Erwin met us with a big van to drive us to the University House. Remember how serious and proper he was in his role?
Ray stayed with the luggage — Chief and I went to collect the dogs — you could hear them a mile off — he never broke composure and I wondered — “Is he always so official?” I learned — “pretty much”, “but what a wise and good Chief he was. He retired last year (August 2012). And Chief Liz Pauley is continuing the practice of keeping us safe, in compliance and being helpful.
Ray and I arrived Thanksgiving weekend 1999. The next Monday morning was my first day on the job. I gathered all involved and declared a war on enrollment — together we won the war.
Not just growth, but quality:
In preparing these remarks, I thought back to our brainstorming in 1999 — we asked ourselves how we could be better. Can you remember or believe:
- We did not systematically capture phone inquiries. Someone would call with a question about attending TWU — we would answer and then hang up without capturing contact information.
- You could toss our recruiting materials on a table and they had no institutional look — no brand.
- We did not market widely or well.
The list went on and on. We went to work — and came to believe recruitment and retention belongs to and is the responsibility of all of us.
I want to thank Carolyn Barnes and her group — Marketing and Communication — for templates — these include ones for Departmental Newsletters, letter head, certificates, etc.
and for recruiting materials all branding TWU…
...and for the message being the same — the logos brand TWU.
For putting us out there — who ever imagined TWU would do billboards on I-35?
- or wrap city buses in Dallas,
- or increase in the way we have our print ads — in Houston, for example, in the Texas Medical Center News,
- or be on the rolling kiosks in the Southwest Airlines terminal — and in the Parking Spot airport shuttle vans at both DFW and Love Field,
- or we would wrap our own buses to act as rolling billboards.
Our message is strong — relevant to students and tied to the state’s needs.
I want to recognize Gary Ray, Associate Vice President for Enrollment Services, and his group of dedicated people:
- Erma Nieto-Brecht, Director of Admissions
- Bobby Lothringer, Registrar
- Governor Jackson, Director of Financial Aid
…and all who work the hours to make enrollment happen.
In Student Life, Dr. Heather Speed and her people oversee orientations and the settling in of students.
And you — the faculty — who faithfully appear at open houses to speak to students and often parents.
You are the key — it is that interest you show in students — the passion you have for your discipline. You close the deal — thank you for the partnership you have forged with recruitment.
Once we enroll we need to retain…again, faculty and staff are interested and committed. Staff, you make the difference. It is you who students phone or see with their problems and questions. TWU staff does not give a run-around…you help connect students and solve problems. Thank you.
The new TWU Pioneer Center for Student Excellence coming this fall to the Blagg Huey Library has such promise for all students. In a one-stop environment, the services related to student success are gathered — from tutoring to internships to study abroad to leadership to honors — it is all connected and transparent.
Dr. Joshua Adams has accepted the position to lead this initiative — I wish him and all involved great success.
Growth in enrollment leads to growth in graduation.
Together — over the years — Dr. Jennifer Martin and her Commencement Committee have improved our presentation. So many attendees compliment the tone, the organization, the graciousness of our ceremonies and the receptions following. To the ceremony, we have added banners.
Remember Wilkes Berry, Professor and Associate Provost –
I am certain he was a frustrated wedding planner. When we added the banners, he was right there telling us when to go — timing our pace.
We added a full orchestra, more ropes and student recognitions, a more informative program, a big screen, a flower market outside, etc.
But what I most remember is my first commencement — winter 1999 — Do any of you recall?
The platform guests and faculty marched in — the graduates followed and followed and followed…… we ran out of seats — the graduates continued — they pooled on either side of the stage — faculty began to get up and give students their seats — so did those on the platform.
We needed to start. Many of you know I begin the program by going to the podium and saying, “I am Ann Stuart, Chancellor of TWU. Please be seated.” In perhaps one of my best extemporaneous moments, I went to the podium and said, “I am Ann Stuart” and followed with…. “Anyone who has a seat, please be seated.”
Jim Stiles — our past Registrar who was in charge of the student count — had turned pale and looked ill — but we recovered and all went well.
That was probably the most remembered commencement, but it is rivaled by the one we had in the dark at the Convention Center in Houston — do you remember? We groped our way to the stage. Once there, no one could see beyond the stage. We could not have told you if there were ten people in the audience or a hundred — no one could read the podium book. It was an experience.
Dr. Jennifer Martin regularly calls her committee together after commencement to debrief. This past June she did so again. I attended and was remembering these incidents that I have just related when Dr. Martin explained there was one I did not know about.
She told of several years ago when two little mice emerged from the greenery and frolicked on stage — I never saw them — they went back into their green home, but the stage party who had seen them was in high anxiety.
As a group and individually, I want to recognize faculty.
I admire your dedication to teaching and for those who have chosen research and other outreach projects, I recognize your work and add my congratulations. This slide is of playbill ads in the DFW area and Houston calling attention to your successes.
Many of you have received prestigious awards —
notice how often “national” appears in these slides — many of you have been elected to national offices in your disciplines.
The students speak of your commitment and interest — thank you for what you do.
Our students are another amazing group.
Again these images are of playbill ads in the metroplex and Houston. As TWU’s reputation has expanded, so has the quality of our student body — again awards and recognitions bring attention obviously to the student, but also to our public —
all of this wraps into our continuous quest for excellence.
I recognize that student success ties directly to faculty and staff support. Thank you for your assistance.
I want also to recognize our amazing athletic program that promotes the student athlete — 62 consecutive semesters of a cumulative 3.0 grade point average or higher (for the spring 2013 semester, TWU athletes had a combined cumulative gpa of a 3.518 — a new record!).
While doing that, gymnastics has garnered 9 national championships and numerous individual medals….
The Basketball team won their first-ever Lone Star Conference Championship in 2011…
This year, the Softball team won its first Lone Star Conference Championship and LSC Tournament, along with winning the NCAA Division II South Central Regional Tournament. With this win, they were ranked 6th in the nation and headed to the NCAA National Championship Tournament. Additionally, numerous individual players won awards and established records were broken along the way — too numerous to mention here.
Who knows what is ahead — I bet it will be good.
We have initiated so many programs over the past decade. You have helped with many — all are true to the TWU mission and advance our quest to be known for the right things and to serve students well –
- Soon after I arrived, we put together fragments to make a legitimate Honors Scholar Program.
- The above images illustrate some of the foreign study trips.
- I brought with me the concept of a Leadership Institute and invited Major General Mary Saunders to develop the Institute that prepares student participants for the Institute’s three core values of:
- Economic Security
- Health and Wellness
- Leadership Development
- The Governor decreed TWU as the permanent home of the Texas Women’s Hall of Fame — six of our own are included — what a wonderful recognition of TWU’s mission and legacy. If you have not visited the permanent exhibit in Hubbard Hall, I encourage you to do so.
- We refined and expanded living/learning communities in our residence halls and welcome the Terry Scholars to their floor this fall.
- Sixteen TWU students were awarded from the Terry Foundation over $233,800 for fall 2013 semester (as the induction class for this prestigious program). The Terry Foundation is the state’s largest private scholarship program and TWU joins eight other outstanding universities in Texas as a recipient. These are full scholarships. TWU will add 16 more students next year and the two years following for a total of 64 students which the Terry Foundation will support.
- Our library has expanded its archival collections —
- led by the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) collection. Our own Dr. Kate Landdeck, Associate Professor of History, works and publishes in this collection. These collections are joined by the woman’s collection, cookbook collection, and others.
- Our Theatre Department moved into a new home and has performed overseas at the Scotland Edinburgh Fringe Festival and off Broadway.
- Our Houston Nursing faculty introduced ‘ENHANSE: Educating Nurses Via Hospital and Nursing Simulated Environments’.
- A continuous 24-hour/day “real-world” experience on a simulated nursing unit — with students as patient actors — within an environment where anything that might happen takes place.
- The Dallas Stroke Center has its own entrance and place in our new Dallas Institute and continues its important work on language and mobility outcomes.
- As testimony to quality and promise of our program, we have in Dallas two endowed chairs in Nursing funded by the late Mrs. Florence Doswell. They add to the partially endowed Perry Chair in Houston.
- We have named Colleges: the Nelda C. Stark College of Nursing-Houston and the Houston J. and Florence A. Doswell College of Nursing-Dallas...
- ...as well as a whole institute in Dallas — the T. Boone Pickens Institute of Health Sciences.
- I introduced an acquisition program for purchasing student, faculty and alumni art and placing it in public spaces in our buildings. I am particularly pleased with this program, for it makes dramatic note of TWU’s liberal arts mission.
- We have begun an Alumni Excellence Award Program that allows departments to compete to recognize their outstanding graduates and bring them back to campus to share and inspire.
- Virginia Chandler Dykes — an alumna — and her late husband Roland initiated the Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award and its annual celebration luncheon in Dallas.
- This signature event has put us on the map in Dallas.
- I — in Ray’s, my husband’s, memory — initiated the Celebration of Science Series. This program is in its third year and is very successful.
- A reforesting program was initiated to renew our campus and a Redbud tree campaign to restore Dr. Hubbard’s vision of adding hundreds of redbud trees to the campus landscape.
I could go on — but you see the momentum — this is not possible if an institution is not succeeding and seizing opportunities.
It would be unusual to serve 14 years and not have a little excitement.
The March 2010 Faculty Senate vote of no confidence is right up there near the top!
Such things happen and the risk goes with accepting the position.
One interesting side light of this time was I read every day the newspaper coverage and then went into the readers’ blog for on-line anonymous comments. I was called a number of names — all suggesting a rather dictatorial personality — can you imagine?
Anyway, the event passed — as all do — I did benefit, however, by receiving two new mugs….
I use them daily and try to live up to the image.
One thing I think we all could agree on is the transformation we have made to our facilities and technology. Throughout my administrative experience, I have always been a builder — I continued to lead the effort at TWU.
When I arrived we had curb appeal, but if you stopped and went inside buildings — furniture was mismatched — in need of repair — buildings were forlorn — what saved us was housekeeping.
My thanks to Dennis Maddox — who retired — and now to Jacob Ortiz’s crew — and of course to Bobby Trevino and his grounds-keeping crew — our buildings are the cleanest and our grounds are beautifully kept — one of the assets of TWU.
The campus has special places...
...and alums, in particular, want to be associated with us and they and their families wish to recognize the significance of TWU to their lives.
Once here, I knew I wanted to build, but I needed to start small. This was my first facilities project.
It is a ‘two-holer’ and addressed a need — if you attended an event at the Greenhouse or gardens, the closest bathroom was in the Library and it was not always open.
From that modest beginning the program of continuous transformation began….
In Denton —
University Signage — the corners of the Denton campus are now significantly marked — as is building signage,
Fitness and Recreation Center – Filled to capacity most times and emphasizes wellness,
The Former Students Association and Gertrude Lathrop Arbor — provides a quiet space,
CFO Classroom Renovations – mirror other classroom renovations for teaching & technology,
MCL Renovations — all nine floors have been renovated — we have left the auditorium and the Dental Hygiene Clinic,
Redbud Theatre — the old is on the left at the top — the new is an amazing use of wasted space on the North side of Hubbard Hall,
Fire Escapes and Campus Lighting — Code is costly. Look at this $100,000 fire escape at CFO — and these beautifully designed fire escapes at Margo Jones and the Art Building. They fit over the existing buildings to be almost one with the structure. The design of the outdoor lights is so right for our campus — remember the big white balls? So not right.
Student Study Areas — Houston and Dallas,
Arts & Sciences Renovations — Garden Area — another study and quiet space,
ACT Second Floor Lobby — all give us meeting and ceremonial spaces,
Health Services — over 30,000 contacts this past year,
Soccer Field — one of the best in the state,
Lowry Woods Community — to serve the needs of juniors, seniors, and families,
C-Store — Stark/Guinn Commons — pizza at midnight,
Ann Stuart Science Complex — I am so proud,
Gertrude Gibson Guest House — a gift from a long-time staff member (53 years!),
Institute of Health Sciences — Houston Center,
T. Boone Pickens Institute of Health Sciences — Dallas Center.
All has occurred within the last decade. I am most grateful for the leadership of Mr. Harold Johnson, Associate Vice President of Facilities Management & Construction, and his team. What a transformation we have made.
Our technology has advanced at the same pace.
I shall always remember looking out my office window shortly after I arrived and seeing someone rolling a cart with an overhead projector on it to some classroom. We have certainly come a long way. Mr. Bill Palmertree, Vice President of Technology & Information, gave us the vision which continues with the leadership of Mr. Rob Placido, Associate Provost for Technology & CIO, and his team.
All of this progress — this moving forward — this momentum that you have helped build is acknowledged by others trusting and believing in us — such as the Legislature and others supporting the University.
Look at these recent gifts — take pride in what is happening. You are a part of it.
Just as we have received gifts and bequests, you have been successful in being awarded grants. I want to recognize among you lead writers of these grant applications along with Tracy Lindsay, Director of Operations, and others in the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs who provide support, advice, and guard compliance once the grant is awarded.
As these slides have illustrated, we do many things well. One in which we excel in is celebrating.
- Community party at University House; Christmas party at the house; and even a Houston Flood Survivor party...
- Outdoor picnics at the House with live music; Christmas on campus in the MCL bldg.; student tailgate party...
- NCAA Gymnastics Championship reception; youth summer camp; Ray and I with Ann Williams in Dallas when TWU hosted an anniversary reception.
I want to close with a moment of privilege to envision the future as I see it of TWU and higher education. Major changes are ahead. Discussions of changes are everywhere and they are not going away. Foremost is funding.
State allocations decrease or stay steady, but unfunded mandates increase, and public pressure dampens the will to raise tuition.
The result for TWU is that we have very little undesignated money leaving little flexibility for anything “new” or “improved”.
During my tenure, we have raised over 240 million dollars, but the monies have come primarily from foundations and individuals with trusts for specific building projects or programs. One of the greatest needs for TWU going forward is to raise undesignated dollars to support the University’s needs not covered by state appropriations and tuition. This need will be a priority of the next Chancellor.
The Commercialization of Higher Education
Students access college to gain credentials that lead to jobs. This often means students want classes when they want them and delivered as they want them. The table has turned from a faculty-driven industry to one that is student-driven. The students’ needs and desires drive the curricula, scheduling, facilities, student services, marketing, etc.
Universities who succeed recognize the need for change and implement it. TWU will need to respond and respond quickly and competitively.
The universal college calendar is over 300 years old and is based upon an agrarian concept of planting and harvesting translated into a spring and fall semester system.
This same calendar held through the founding of our land grant universities and normal schools in the 19th century when we began to educate more than the intellectual elite. The calendar no longer works. It already has been modified in practice, but dramatic changes are demanded for the near future. In the on-demand world of higher education, the semester will remain only one option. Short courses, courses that begin and end at multiple times, universities open-for-business 12 months a year at all times of the day and night—these will become commonplace.
A major issue with implementing these changes is that funding is currently determined by credit hour, and credit hours are determined by semesters. How boards of education and accrediting bodies deal with this semester issue is a major challenge. You at TWU need to accept the trend and get involved — help to find the solutions. Serve when invited on Coordinating Board committees as they grapple with this issue.
You have already been doing this, and through your service, TWU is more recognized as a leader in educational issues and more and more is called upon for advice and counsel.
One of TWU’s major issues is to have computer systems that can handle this complexity of scheduling and have billing practices in place to collect what is owed.
The tenure system is still strong, but weakening. The prolific use of part-time faculty at most institutions has already changed the ratio of tenure-to-non-tenured faculty at many institutions.
The national movement of “accountability” is being applied to higher education as well as other industries, and the challenge of justifying some tenured faculty schedules and benefits does not fit well within a “return on investment” model.
The faculty at TWU is already analyzing an appropriate ratio of tenured vs. non-tenured — both for accrediting bodies and the University’s reputation and integrity. I commend your being forward thinking.
On-line courses or degrees are here and increasing. The growth of MOOC’s (massive open on-line courses) — many free — challenge universities to think how they accept and credential them and how they charge for them.
TWU has invested in on-line learning and should play a significant role at the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and/or the Legislature as they work on this issue.
Loss of Institutional Loyalty is also troublesome.
As students “bundle” a number of educational experiences (traditional face-to-face on campus, on-line, experiential, certificates, etc.) from a variety of different educational institutions or experiences, the “graduate” will have less and less loyalty or emotional attachment to a single university.
This alumni disconnect potentially effects most dramatically a university’s ability to fund-raise.
TWU must aggressively promote stewardship of alumni. We are not as successful as we need to be.
Technology drives everything and will only become more imperative and competitive.
TWU’s challenge is how much to invest to be competitive and serve teaching and learning needs without over-investing in products that so quickly become obsolete.
The state and national debate will continue on how much higher education should cost and how much of that cost can or should be the burden of the student. The question is increasingly being asked, “Is college still worth it?” TWU will need to raise significant dollars for scholarships and clearly articulate and market the value of college and return-on-investment.
We do many things well — particularly teaching — but a fire-in-the-belly, assessment-based, data-driven, competitive spirit needs to dominate our culture.
As competitiveness increases, TWU must want to win (be it recognitions, grants, faculty/staff hires, etc.). The thirst for being better and being accountable must be all persuasive. The next Chancellor must continue to work for this change. To be complacent or hold our place will only lead backwards.
I ask you to support this next Chancellor and continue to work closely with Dr. Neely. He is an exceptional academic leader — together you are and you will continue to position this University to do good things.
I have received and read with interest the Visioning Committee I’s Final Report … which anticipates many of the issues I have raised. It is reassuring that TWU is aware of challenges and planning change. We await the SACS reaccreditation confirmation in December. You worked so hard and so well together on this important endeavor.
Drs. Brenda Floyd and Richard Nicholas both provide leadership in their areas. Brenda watches our spending and Richard serves our students’ needs. In these remarks I have mentioned specific individuals — the danger in doing so is leaving others out — I cannot say enough about all of you and your commitment.
Soon after I arrived it was our Centennial Year — 2001. We partied and celebrated, but mostly for me it was an education of this University’s distinguished past and the position of importance it holds in the field of higher education in Texas.
My focus this year is to do all that I can to put procedures, practices and organizations in place to continue our momentum.
I would be very remiss not to mention and acknowledge my staff Trayce Hudy, Amy Liedtke and Melinda Potynski. They are smart and committed and I am grateful to them.
Thank you for the partnership we have had and for those of you who knew Ray — thank you for the kindnesses shown. As I have said, he was the love of my life, my best friend, and I miss him every day.
The search is on for my replacement. We have another academic year together, but not another time like this when we are together, and I can thank you for the honor of working with you at this exceptional university. As the title says, "Thanks for the Memories."
I have invited Sue Bancroft, Chair and Presiding Officer of our Board of Regents and Chair of the Search Committee, to share with you the search process going forward for the next Chancellor.
page last updated 1/27/2014 9:11 AM