Message from the President
By Office of the President
Monday, 04 04 2016
Dear Members of the University Community:
Spring semester celebrations are upon us and soon we will welcome the passage of another class of graduates. Moments like the upcoming Ring Ceremony on April 9th are powerful flashes of inspiration that remind us that we change lives! The pride our students share with their loved ones as they receive their A&M-SA Jaguar ring inspires me to remain focused on the journey to welcome the inaugural class of first-year students in a mere 139 days! It is a busy period and there is much news to share.
We will continue our outreach about our comprehensive expansion at the upcoming faculty breakfast and on the comprehensive expansion website. The Super Group is finalizing Phase III of the comprehensive expansion work to develop and implement the National Model for Student and Academic Success. The teams have produced audacious initiatives and are focused on implementing recognized high-impact practices across the University. Their work will then progress to Phase IV. Please visit the website or reach out to Vice President Melissa Mahan or Provost Steven Olswang for further details.
Across campus we are updating the strategic plan, the facilities master plan and the enrollment plan. These three documents set the vision and priorities for the future of our campus. I know many of you participated in one of the numerous multi-day focus groups or as part of the Strategic Planning Town Hall Meeting. The Strategic Planning Committee has reviewed data and feedback from a wide range of community, industry, military, and university advisory groups, as well as educational partners (K-12 and post-secondary) and students. The background data is available on the University's intranet and you may access it with your login credentials here. A draft version of the Mission, Vision and Values will be shared on April 21st at the next Strategic Planning Town Hall Meeting.
In conjunction with strategic planning, the Master Plan Committee is completing space programming for the new Tuition Revenue Bond-funded Science and Technology building and realigning our existing space at the main campus. As Provost Olswang recently announced, there is a concerted effort to plan the new facility to meet our forecasted academic and enrollment growth. Under the leadership of Provost Steven Olswang and Vice President Darrell Morrison, we are focused on solutions to house all students, faculty and staff at the main campus in 2017. The new building project timeline has been expedited. Requests for qualifications to select a design team will be issued next week followed by a request for proposal (RFP) for a construction firm. We expect to break ground by June 2017 with completion in time for spring 2019 classes. We are updating the master plan to accommodate enrollment and academic program expansion over the next 20 years. We anticipate an update on the plan prior to the end of this semester. As I often say, our best days are ahead!
I am excited to announce that A&M-San Antonio has selected the Education Advisory Board (EAB) to provide data-analytics software and technical support of our student academic success practices. The software is intended to support campus practices that increase student retention and success. Additionally, we are implementing a new Student Information System (SIS). Over the past two years, we have been preparing to migrate from the A&M-Kingsville Banner SIS to our own version-a key initiative amongst the comprehensive expansion goals. It has taken countless hours from all areas of the University to design, implement, test and migrate data. Over the next few months, we will continue the conversion processes that will complete the implementation of the SIS system. The most visible change will be a transition from Jaguar Connect to Jaguar Den. Students will use this new system for the fall 2016 registration, in early May and by fall 2016 term, we will be fully live on the new system.
The comprehensive expansion and student growth requires adding new talent. We are underway to hire approximately 32 additional faculty and 26 staff members. We are currently in the design phase of an on-boarding process that includes faculty professional development for summer 2016 and orientation for all new faculty and staff. I anticipate integrating new traditions at our fall 2016 Convocation including a Jaguar March for new students!
In early January, I announced that a temporary faculty advisor position would be added to our leadership team to ensure we continued our focus on shared governance and enhancing communication across the professoriate. I am pleased to announce that Dr. Edward Westermann was selected as the new faculty advisor to the President's Cabinet. He will begin his work this semester, but the bulk of his assigned time will occur in the summer and fall terms. He will maintain his faculty responsibilities in the College of Arts and Sciences.
We are also in the final phase of selection for both the executive director of Experiential Learning and the vice president for University Advancement positions. I have retained the executive search firm of AGB to assist with the provost search. The search committee is underway and we will hear more about the finalists the third week in April. The new faculty and staff are sure to bring a wealth of talent and excitement that will add to our amazing team.
I invite you to join me in welcoming Dr. John Gardner back to our campus April 7th - 8th. He will be here to review the progress of our Foundations of Excellence (FoE) subgroups and advise our campus community about our comprehensive expansion efforts and the development of the National Model for Student and Academic Success. Dr. Gardner is a renowned researcher and founder of the John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education established to strengthen institutional student learning and retention.
Our annual Fiesta San Antonio event Festival de Cascarones is happening on April 24th and you are invited to take part in the festivities. This free event will feature live performances by country music singer Tracy Lawrence and DJ TONYC. In addition, our student organizations will sell food and drink items to raise money to help support educational conferences, organize community service projects and club programming. There will also be a Golden Egg Contest which allows guests a chance to win a $2,500 tuition voucher, a $1,500 textbook voucher or an Apple iPad. We are also hosting an inaugural pinning ceremony for our fall 2016 students. Please bring your family and invite your friends and neighbors to join us as at the Fiesta Finale!
The great Nelson Mandela said "Education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change the world." Here at A&M-SA, we are creating an innovative educational model to change the lives of the amazing students that we have the privilege to serve-with the promise of changing their world for generations to come. I thank you for joining me on our audacious leadership journey. I appreciate your agile response to a rapidly changing environment. Your positive energy and commitment to our students and the University community is extraordinary! Please join in on the committee work; your voice is needed. As always, I welcome your thoughts via S.H.A.R.E., e-mail or stop by the office for a visit. It's a great day to be a Jaguar!
Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson