Texas State University enhances campuses, learning experience
Excerpt from President Denise M. Trauth’s 2019 Convocation address: Celebrating Discovery, Diversity and Distinction
During her 2019 Convocation address on August 20 to faculty and staff, Texas State University President Denise M. Trauth highlighted strides made over the last year to enhance the university, learning environments, and the Texas State experience. Below is an excerpt from the speech highlighting several initiatives.
Last year was great for our students and for the faculty and staff who support them.
We formed the Office of Sustainability to centralize and give visibility to the university’s existing efforts. In one of the notable sustainability achievements of last year, we planted more than 185 trees on our campuses.
We also completed several major construction projects in San Marcos:
- We dedicated the Grady Early Building in October to serve as the new home for the Forensic Anthropology Center and the Grady Early Forensic Anthropology Laboratory.
- In October, we also rededicated the University Events Center and Strahan Arena after a major expansion, including the addition of 1,800 seats.
- In November, we dedicated Bruce and Gloria Ingram Hall, our newest engineering and science building, the largest and most ambitious academic building project in Texas State history.
- In the spring, we opened the Student Health Center on Thorpe Lane to expand students’ access to primary care and sports medicine, bringing our total number of university health center locations to three.
- In the spring, we also completed the remodeling of Encino Hall, and last month we completed renovations at Blanco Hall.
- And finally, the new Alumni and Future Student Welcome Center inside the LBJ Student Center celebrated its opening 10 days ago.
On our Round Rock Campus:
- Last year, we opened Willow Hall, our newest health professions building.
- In November, we renovated the IT space in Avery Building, including the addition of a walk-up center where classroom technicians are housed.
- We also added food service options on the Round Rock Campus.
- And, the office suite formerly occupied by the Small Business Development Center in Avery Building has been remodeled to be the new home of the Student Affairs Division at Round Rock.
These improvements demonstrate our commitment to helping our students, faculty, and staff achieve their highest potential. That commitment has garnered national accolades for our university:
- Earlier this month, the Princeton Review named Texas State one of the nation's best institutions for undergraduates– an honor given to only 13% of the nation’s four-year institutions. This is what the editor-in-chief of the Princeton Review said about us: “We salute Texas State for its outstanding academics and we are truly pleased to recommend it to prospective applicants searching for their personal ‘best-fit’ college.”
- In the spring, Forbes listed Texas State among “America's Best Midsize Employers” for 2019. That was the fourth time we topped a Forbes “Best Of” list in the past two years, having also been named on “America’s Best Employers” in 2017, “Best Employers for Women” in 2018, and “Best Employers for Diversity” in 2019.
As the need for financial aid is increasing among high school students statewide, scholarships are critical. During the 2018-19 year, Texas State awarded over $370 million in financial aid to our students. Our fundraising efforts have helped to bring a quality education within reach of many students. Since 2015, we have raised over $131 million, including over $60 million in scholarships.
Now I’d like to turn to other actions we are taking to enhance the student experience:
- In early 2020, the expansion of the LBJ Student Center is due to be completed. The 51,000 square foot center will include a new main entry lobby, an additional ballroom, and new conference and meeting rooms.
- We are also adding new spaces for students to study and gather, including a Unity Lounge, complete with a computer lab. We hope the Unity Lounge will be a special place that makes all our students feel welcome and at home in the heart of our bustling San Marcos Campus.
- We also expect the Albert B. Alkek Library renovations to be complete in early 2020, including the addition of a Learning Commons, and a Starbucks coffee house.
- The expansion of The Wittliff Collections expected to be complete in January, including three new galleries.
- The transformation of Elliott Hall from a residence hall to an office and classroom building is scheduled to be completed by the spring.
- Ongoing construction of a new Campus Recreation Sports Fields Complex in San Marcos is also expected to be completed in the spring.
This semester, we begin offering recreational services on our Round Rock Campus. A new multipurpose recreation field is under construction next to Willow Hall, scheduled to open later this fall. We will offer intramural sports leagues and activities on the new recreation field, which will be secure and lit for nighttime use. In September, we will begin construction on a new full-service Recreation Center in the Avery Building, scheduled to open in spring 2020, including a new multipurpose room for group exercise classes and personal training.
As our campuses grow and evolve, so must our University Police Department. This year, we welcomed a new Chief of Police whose vision for UPD is centered on community-oriented policing. Over the next several years, she will lead the department towards dual accreditation with the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies, and the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators. Pursuing these accreditations reflects UPD’s commitment to meeting the highest standards in campus public safety.
The safer our students, faculty, and staff feel, the more productive our learning environment will be. To that end, we convened a Safety and Security Task Force this summer with a two-fold mission – enact initiatives to enhance campus safety, and inform our community of safety measures and programs available. We are launching the TXST SAFE campaign to draw attention to safety information.
Following tumultuous Student Government impeachment proceedings in the spring of 2018, the Dean of Students formed a task force of students, faculty, and staff to undertake a systematic review of Student Government and its governing documents. The task force has completed its review, and during the upcoming academic year, Student Government will call for a vote on the new Constitution.
We welcomed a new head football coach in November, and it generated a lot of excitement in the Bobcat family. Earlier this year, we convened a task force to make recommendations on ways to improve the overall game day experience for fans. The task force recommended significant changes to tailgating, new fan participation opportunities, and enhanced marketing campaigns. I hope to see you at Bobcat Stadium this season to cheer on the football team, and enjoy some of these new fan experiences. I also encourage you to come out to show your support for our soccer team and our volleyball team this fall.
After more than two years of research, we announced in May that Canvas had been chosen as the university’s new learning management system. Canvas will replace TRACS and better equip us to deliver modern, technology-driven instruction.
To view the entire 2019 Convocation address, click here.