Highlights from the February Board of Regents meeting
February 22, 2019
The groundbreaking (photo gallery) on a new $54-million science research building and a remarkable $500,000 athletics alumna gift kicked off the beginning of today’s meeting of the Texas Woman's Board of Regents.
The new science research facility is the last of the large projects on our current Denton construction-boom “to do” list, and it is slated to open in July 2020. The center will include labs, collaborative work spaces, and offices and will support graduate and undergraduate research in biology, chemistry and biochemistry, psychology, and food and nutrition programs on our Denton campus.
The gift from our alumna and softball legend Dianne I. Baker is particularly notable, as it is the largest-ever single gift to our athletics program, and our softball program, from a living alumna. She credits the university for taking her from a penniless student in the 70s to equipping her with the tools that by 2003 made her “among the winningest active coaches in the NCAA record books.” In her letter to the regents, she emphasized how the gift is for the students and those who help them succeed; it is for the future.
Over the course of the two days, we discussed a wide variety of items that chronicled the tremendous progress our university is making. Below are some highlights:
Strong spring student enrollment numbers. Registrar Bobby Lothringer shared the good news about the spring’s student application and enrollment numbers, noting the uptick of graduate students in one year is the largest in his 20 years working at three institutions. New graduate student enrollment is up more than 43% with overall enrollment for spring 2019 up nearly 2.5% over last year. He credited the Graduate School, deans, faculty, admissions counselors, digital marketing, and the personalization efforts in recruiting new students.
TWU’s growing economic impact. What would the world be like without us? A new preliminary external analysis of TWU’s statewide (three-campus) footprint shows a $1.8 billion statewide impact—equivalent to more than 29,000 jobs supported by the activities of Texas Woman's, its faculty, staff, students, and alumni.
Civic engagement. In addition to initiatives under way at our new Center for Women in Politics and Public Policy, Student Life last year launched a number of “Voter Friendly Campus” projects to increase voter registration and enhance civic education. From promotional initiatives such as “donuts for democracy,” “pizza for politics,” and a “Speak Up” series to distribution of copies of the U.S. Constitution, student leaders registered nearly 500 of their peers to vote and hosted 17 civic education programs reaching more than 1,700 students. Notably, TWU’s student voting rate (20.1%)is higher than the national college voting rate (19.1%), but efforts to establish a polling site on the Denton campus will continue to raise it even higher.
NASA design challenge team winners. We learned that interdepartmental faculty-student collaboration was a key ingredient in our kinesiology team’s selection for “best overall” honors in the NASA-sponsored Texas Space Grant Consortium Design Challenge late last year. The team of senior kinesiology students designed a prototype garment with an electrical stimulator for muscular activation as a way to mitigate effects of microgravity on astronauts’ lower backs. The implementation of their undershirt concept, using 3D modeling software provided by the Center for Student Research, was then brought to life by Sheri Dragoo, Ph.D., fashion and textiles professor. In addition, a graphic design student digitized the team’s mission patch. The Acolytes of Apollo—TWU’s first team in this statewide competition—beat schools that for years have competed to find solutions to engineering and technical issues related to space travel.
Academic prowess. We were pleased to note that research grants more than doubled in the past year to $1.06 million. The College of Nursing received approval to add a fully online delivery option for the Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) masters program, addressing the high demand for nurse practitioners in rural counties. As an aside to the approval request, the regents recognized TWU alumna and dean, Anita Hufft, for her leadership and legacy contributions to the College of Nursing, including raising the visibility of the entire institution on the national stage (“As Retirement Nears, Nursing Dean Reflects on Tenure,” Diverse Issues in Higher Education, Feb. 2019).
Army ROTC program. After more than three decades, Texas Woman's students pursuing ROTC leadership interests now have their own ROTC facility on our Denton campus, minimizing their need to drive to other universities for training. Student participation in ROTC has grown from two students a year ago to 11 students this past semester.
Competitive sports. The first phase of planning is underway for new competitive sports programs to augment enrollment and enhance our campus-life culture. Through extensive analysis and using a decision-making framework, we will be evaluating budget refinements and academic alignment as part of the overall feasibility in considering a number of options.
In closing, I’d like to extend special thanks to three members of the Texas Woman’s Board of Regents whose terms have concluded: Regent Paup (6 years), Regent Schrader (12 years), and Regent Wilson (10 years). Each has served with great distinction. I am grateful that they will continue to serve until Gov. Abbott appoints their successors.
These regents have left their mark on TWU—from the DFW-area construction expertise of Regent Schrader, Regent Paup’s deep background in fundraising and financial support of the arts, and to Regent Wilson’s leadership as board chair and her Austin relationships. In addition, Nancy and Ted Paup's commitment to investing in university projects will attract the interests of other philanthropists. These projects include a speaker series, refurbishing and commissioning artwork, and the sponsoring of special events.
I want to congratulate Regents Nolan Perez and Jill Jester, who were each unanimously selected by their peers to serve as chair and vice chair, respectively. The full agenda and recording of the meetings is available on the regents’ website.
I cannot emphasize or repeat often enough that our success with these meetings of the TWU Board of Regents would not be possible if not for the faculty, staff, and alumni who so deeply care about our mission and our students. Together, we BOLDLY GO!
With Pioneer Pride,
Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Chancellor and President
Page last updated 11:16 AM, March 8, 2019