Highlights from the August 2022 board meeting

Dear Colleagues,

Immediately after the quarterly meeting of the Texas Woman’s University System Board of Regents, I flew to Seattle for our first alum gathering in that part of the country. The event was a huge success, and I look forward to sharing more about the outcomes of that trip later.

Before sharing more about the regents’ meeting, I have some sad news. We recently lost former regent, Virginia Chandler Dykes, a real Texas Woman’s Pioneer. She is the founder and namesake for our Dallas Leadership Luncheon’s Virginia Chandler Dykes Leadership Award, which has raised more than $1 million for scholarships since its inception. Many in the Texas Woman’s community will deeply feel her loss.

At the regents’ meeting, we introduced O. Finley Graves, PhD, CPA, our interim provost and executive vice president for Academic Affairs, and Kristina Kaskel-Ruiz, vice president for Marketing and Communication. Both joined the university this summer. Additionally, the board welcomed its newest member, student Regent Lily Wilson, whom Gov. Greg Abbott appointed in mid-June.

The board heard a report from Javier Flores, EdD, Texas Woman’s associate vice president for Enrollment Management, who forecasted a more or less flat overall enrollment for fall 2022. This data point comes following the university’s two highest enrollment peaks in fall 2020 and fall 2021 but demonstrates a more favorable outlook than many other colleges and universities. On average, universities and colleges nationally are projecting a 4.7% enrollment decline this fall.

Dr. Flores also projected an 11.9% increase in first-time-in-college students, resulting in the largest incoming class ever and boding well for future enrollment. He has placed regional admissions officers in San Antonio and Mission to bolster student recruiting efforts in South Texas and the Rio Grande Valley.

We continue to expand the modality of academic program delivery to fit the evolving needs of our students. This quarter, regents authorized the hybrid delivery of a BA in English and online delivery of a post-master’s certificate and a master’s degree in a psychiatric/mental health track for nurse practitioners. These new offerings will not require new resources. They will give students, who work or have families and need more flexible schedules, greater access to degree or certificate programs. 
Dr. Kimberly Russell, our vice president for University Advancement, reported that fiscal 2022 was a record year in terms of the number of gifts (5,293) and donors (4,045), which has consistently increased over the last five years. I am pleased to note that our University Advancement team’s efforts have helped elevate a culture of philanthropy and connection with our alums. Last November, I reported on a highly successful meeting with our alums in Washington, DC. The recent trip to Seattle that I am just returning from was another well-organized event from the University Advancement team.

Regents are often amazed at the compelling research by our faculty and students. Last week, they heard a report presented by Juliet Spencer, PhD, director of the School of the Sciences and professor of biology and Michael Bergel, PhD, associate professor of biology. The two, along with a team of Texas Woman’s graduate and undergraduate students, have conducted extensive research on breast cancer, including a recently patented anti-cancer compound and the role of a virus known as cytomegalovirus (CMV) on the spread of tumors.

While the virus resides in most of us as part of our microbiome, early findings suggest the presence of CMV in breast cancer patients may cause tumors to grow more aggressively. Drs. Spencer and Bergel have found that combinations of the anti-cancer compound and a currently marketed anti-viral drug may profoundly inhibit tumor spread in breast cancer patients with CMV. Years of research and experimentation support this, and their team hopes to pursue clinical trials with the funding support of a major pharmaceutical company. The potential for this compound to help breast cancer patients is profound. To say this research is exciting is an understatement, and we are thrilled that Texas Woman’s researchers are pioneering work in the fight against cancer.

Kevin Cruser, our director of governmental and legislative affairs, outlined the university’s legislative wish list, which includes funding requests for a child-care center on the Denton campus to support students, faculty, and staff; a comprehensive mental-health program; a center focused on rural health and longevity; and a summer bridge program to help foster care students who have aged out of the system and need additional support in the transition to college. The Texas Legislature opens its next session in January.

In athletics, we introduced the board to our new softball head coach, Gay McNutt, who comes to Texas Woman’s with impeccable credentials, including hundreds of career wins and numerous softball awards. We also had more good news to report about our gymnastics team. The Texas Woman’s team notched its 12th USA Gymnastics title earlier this year, along with a preceding win at the Midwest Independent Conference. Then recently, the Women’s Collegiate Gymnastics Association recognized the squad last week for posting the highest GPA (3.8774) in the nation among collegiate gymnastics programs—a “trifecta” of honors, as Athletic Director Sandee Mott reported. It is further evidence that our student-athletes are as committed to their sport as they are to academics.

In closing, I am grateful to all of you for your continued support and commitment to making our university a shining beacon on the hill.

With a pioneering spirit,

Carine M. Feyten, Ph.D.
Chancellor and President

Page last updated 11:48 AM, August 18, 2022