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‘One Percent Matters’ Convocation Speech

President Denise M. Trauth
August 24, 2004
Evans Auditorium


Good morning. What an interesting summer it’s been! We listened to the hot conversation around San Marcos about the new conference center and hotel proposed for our city. We went to the movies to see a flying man in red and blue Spandex and a loveable green orge. We turned on the Today Show one morning to see one of our students, Ericka Hailey, who was bitten by a shark off the Galveston coast. In the middle of all the political activity this summer, we felt certain all the sharks were off the coasts of Boston and New York City. Ericka is doing well. She has a positive attitude, which may be more than we can say for the Democrats and Republicans. And buzzards took to circling Old Main and roosting on my windowsill – I’m not about take that as an omen. Of course, there were the important things that did not happen. The Spurs did not win the N.B.A The temperature did not hit 100 degrees all summer. The comptroller did not tell us on August 20 that we have a $7 billion shortfall in the coffers, like she did the first summer I was on campus. And the water tower did not get painted… But it is being washed in preparation for the new paint job, and the new name should be on it in three or four weeks. Still, it was quite a summer. I want to talk today about how a little bit of change can have a big effect, and I’m hoping that has been true of your summer. By that, I mean that I hope you all have been able to change your routines just a little during the summer so that you can face the fall with new vitality. I believe in the value of vacations, some time away from the every-day. John and I were able to get away for a week and went to France before visiting with the Canterbury study group in England. We were in that throng of people you saw on TV along Lance Armstrong’s bike route in Dinan, Brittany, trying to get a glimpse of him. Perry and Marianne Moore may not have gotten a vacation, but they certainly made a big change, moving from Ohio to Texas in the summer! We are glad to have both of them with us. Some of the rest of you have had other little changes in your lives this summer:

  • Emilio Carranco, our university physician, got a new office. It came with the new Student Health Center we opened in July.
  • Tom Grimes got a new label for the Katherine Anne Porter House in Kyle. It’s now a National Historic Landmark with its name in the National Register of Historic Places.
  • And Jim Settle of Residence Life got a new space for students, San Jacinto Hall, just in time for the first move-in last week.

These seemingly small things are indications of larger changes or may lead to larger results. Together and with numerous other things like them, they lead to major evolutions in the substance of the university on the inside of the image of the university on the outside. As we begin a new year together, it is appropriate to recognize some of those among us who have made distinguished contributions to the substance and image of the university in teaching, scholarship and public service. Robert Cotner, president of the Alumni Association, will help make our first presentation. Each year the Alumni Association recognizes an outstanding teacher with its Teaching Award of Honor.

Today’s honoree is a member of the history faculty. Colleagues and students have profound respect for his expertise in military history and his remarkable ability to engage students in studying it. On behalf of our alumni, we are delighted to present this Teaching Award of Honor to James Pole.   

Each year we present two presidential awards for outstanding teaching, two for outstanding scholarly and creative activity and two for outstanding service. One award in each category goes to a faculty member at the assistant professor or instructor/lecturer level and one at the associate or full professor level. This year’s Presidential Awards for Excellence in Teaching go to two individuals who have helped Texas State build its reputation as a student-friendly place where teaching is a consuming passion. These two exemplify our commitment to “an exceptional undergraduate experience as the heart of what we do” and to graduate education as “a means of intellectual growth and professional development.” Please join me in honoring David Donnelly, professor of physics, and Lucy Harney, assistant professor of modern languages.    

We also are honoring two faculty members this morning for their scholarly and creative activity. Both have made significant contributions to their disciplines and to society in general, as well as to their students’ classroom experience.

They exemplify our commitment to “research, scholarship and creative activity as fundamental sources of new knowledge and as expressions of the human spirit.” We are very pleased this morning to award the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Scholarly and Creative Activity to Walter Rudzinski, professor of chemistry and biochemistry, and Jian Shen [gin shin], assistant professor of mathematics who has since been promoted to associate professor. We call on our faculty to serve, as well as to teach and conduct scholarly research. The Presidential Award for Excellence in Service is given to faculty who exemplify our commitment to “public service as a resource for personal, educational, cultural, and economic development.” This year we honor Kathleen Fite, professor of curriculum and instruction, and Janet Hale, assistant professor of finance and economics.

Each year the Faculty Senate chooses two or three colleagues as our campus nominees for the Minnie Stevens Piper Award, which recognizes outstanding college teachers in the State of Texas. These faculty are chosen on the basis of their dedication to the teaching profession, their influence on the lives of students and their contribution to the university as a whole. I want to ask William Stone, chair of the Faculty Senate and professor of criminal justice, to come forward to assist in giving the Everette Swinney [Swee Knee] Faculty Senate Teaching Awards. Our first two awards go to faculty who have combined their commitment to teaching with exemplary records of creative achievement, service and mentoring their peers and students. It is with sincere pleasure today that we present these awards to Rebecca Bell-Meterau, professor of English, and John McGee, professor of finance and economics.  

Our other Faculty Senate nominee went on to win the Piper Award last spring.  He teaches his students that it is the “I will” and not necessarily the I.Q. that determines the level of their achievement and success.  I am delighted to present our 13th faculty member to be named a Minnie Stevens Piper Professor- James Bell.

We want to recognize today three faculty members who have been named distinguished professors emeriti by the Board of Regents of the Texas State University System. Together they served the university for 80 years.  The resolutions that honor them are on stands in the foyer, and I encourage you to look at them later. Our honorees are:
Franklin Calsbeeck, [CAL’S-beak] who served 21 years as professor and assistant dean of education and was named Distinguished Professor of Health Education Emeritus; Grady Early, who taught and mentored and advised students here for 29 years and was named Distinguished Professor of Computer Science Emeritus; And Lon Shell, who served Texas State for 30 years, earning the title of Distinguished Professor of Agriculture Emeritus.  We also want to include in our introduction this morning the 2004 Staff Employee of the Year. She was chosen from among the 12 Employees of the Month. Please help us congratulate Angelika [an-GEL-ick-a] Wahl, administrative assistant in the Department of Geography.

And I’d like to introduce to you this year’s winners of the Mariel Muir Mentoring Award.  Each year we honor a faculty member and a staff member for their mentoring of our students and employees.  Our late dean of science for whom this award is named would be extremely proud of Susan Day, chair and professor of sociology, and Sherri Benn, assistant vice president for multicultural student affairs. [they come on stage] I congratulate all of these outstanding faculty and staff.  Texas State is truly blessed to have all of you. Thank you. Small changes and big results.  That’s what I want to talk a little about today.  In other words, one percent matters.  Ron Walter teaches his genetics students that every person on the planet is just like every other person on the planet in 99 percent of his or her D.N.A.  It’s that 1 percent difference that gives us a tremendous variety in physical appearance, behavior, resistance to disease, life span and other characteristics.One percent matters. Brock Brown often talks about this kind of thing in his intro classes on the environment. He talks about how relatively small increase in the appetite for frog legs in this country can trigger a health crisis in Bangladesh.  One percent matters. Glenn Longley and the folks at the Edwards Aquifer Research and Data Center know that water that is 99 percent pure may not be fit to drink. That one percent makes all the difference between water that can refresh us and water that can kill us. One percent matters. My point is that small changes or small additions can have major results. For instance, we have added 43 faculty and 32 staff this year, and we expect that relatively small growth to impact us in major ways. Looking back on the last year, we have had several changes that produce major results.This time last year we were looking forward to a new name, but even we didn’t know what an interesting year it was going to be! If you are like me, it took a while to get used to saying “Texas State University” after September first. It seems, too, that we spent a considerable amount of time changing signs and modifying things as small as journal reference and as large as a coliseum floor.  I think we have done a remarkable job with such a large project in a short time. The name change seems to have been embraced surprisingly well after we got used to the idea.  One indication of that is the number of people who have requested new diplomas. Before we offered them, we asked other schools that had changed names if they had let alumni order diplomas with the university’s new name on them.  They said that they had, but that very few people had wanted them, maybe a hundred, tops.  So we thought, “That’s not very many; why, we can offer that many free!” So we did.

At last count, 7,944 alumni had ordered new diplomas with the Texas State University name on them.  In my convocation speech last fall, I outlined five priorities we would be addressing this year.  These were increasing faculty salaries, hiring a provost, reviewing evaluation processes, implementing a strategic planning process and developing the campus master plan. Let me give you an update on each of these key areas.  Regarding the first, increasing faculty salaries, we completed a salary market study of Texas State’s salaries compared to a national database of salaries by academic rank and discipline. Based on this information, we established a multi-year plan to bring out average faculty salaries up to a more competitive level. Last year we made a strategic decision to use a good portion of our new funds to pay for these raises in salaries and benefits.  

Since last year, in 3 distribution processes, we have spent almost 4.5 million dollars on increasing the salaries of current faculty members, in addition to the 5.3 million dollars we have allocated for additional faculty positions to keep up with growth and to reduce the student faculty ratio.  We can check off the second priority, hiring a new provost. That’s done.We set up a comprehensive search process that involved widespread campus involvement.  We screened 108 applicants from across the nation.  We had preliminary interviews with nine candidates and invited five to the campus.  And the result was worth the effort.

We hired Texas State’s first provost, Perry Moore, and are delighted to have him. I want to thank the Provost Search Committee, chaired by Gene Bourgeois, for the time and effort they devoted to this process. Toward the third priority of reviewing evaluation processes, we took a look at the whole tenure system. We analyzed the way we conduct evaluation and post tenure review, and made some changes, and will put the revised process into place this fall. We established a tenure and promotion standards committee that spent this year articulating the shared values that guide tenure and promotions at the university; that committee will use this year to assess our methods of analyzing applications for tenure and promotion. Meanwhile, another committee completed a review of the role of department chairs at the university. We will ask the campus community to look at that committee’s recommendations this fall, and once those recommendations are approved, we will begin to apply them. Thanks particularly to Susan Day, Paula Renfro, and Michael Boone who chaired these processes.  I am quite proud of the progress we made on the fourth priority, a new strategic planning process. We have developed a new university mission statement, new shared values, new university goals and completed a Strategic Plan to guide the university through 2009. Those are huge accomplishments!  They represent a lot of work by many of you, so you should be justifiably proud of the results. I am particularly gratified by the extent of collaboration across campus and the collegiality that went into the process. Thank you. I must say our timing was beautiful on this process because over the next four months we will be working with Coordinating Board staff to revise our Table of Programs. The Table of Programs is a blueprint of the degree programs that the Coordinating Board deems appropriate for each university. Every few years, each university gets the chance to revise its Table of Programs, and our turn is early next year. Our discussion will rely heavily on decisions that we reached during the strategic planning process.  And the new program authority that we will seek from the Coordinating Board will grow out of our Strategic Plan.  Thanks to Cathy Fleuvet for her leadership of this process. With wonderful timing, we can use the Strategic Plan, which lays out our academic and program goals, to lead our updating of the Campus Master Plan, or our facilities plan, our fifth priority from last year.  We selected the architectural firm of Broaddus & Associates, with Ayers-Saint-Gross, to lead the development of this plan, and they have already begun to gather information. Again, you will be asked to participate if you desire.  This plan will determine what the campus looks like in the future.  It will also take into consideration green spaces, new building locations, architectural styles, traffic patterns, walkways, image, landscaping, parking, community interaction, function and infrastructure.  A great website is keeping us updated on this project.  Thanks to Nancy Nussbaum for her leadership in this master planning process.  Of course, there were other significant accomplishments during the year. The week after we brought down the SWT flag and raised the Texas State flag last September, we celebrated both the new name and the 100th anniversary of the opening of the university’s doors. The transition to the new name actually came in “under budget.”  We had estimated that it would cost $350,000, but the actual cost is more like $240,000, all of that paid with private donations was we had agreed it would be. We continued to increase the portion of our enrollment that is made up of graduate students.  Last fall, the number of new undergraduate students grew by 4.4 percent while the number of new graduate students grew by 12.8 percent.  Governor Perry helped us break ground on our first permanent building at the Round Rock Higher Education Center in March on 100 acres donated by the Avery family of Austin.  We secured approval for our second undergraduate engineering program, this one in industrial engineering.  We completed the planning and configuration on our new S.A.P. finance and human resources system and began training hundreds of users this summer.The system will ultimately provide significant functional enhancements, including the ability to view account balances in “real time,” and provide expanded web interfaces to simplify access to financial and human resources information.

It’s an enormous project; congratulations to those of you who are making it work.  

We opened the Strahan Coliseum addition, the new Student Health Center and just this month, San Jacinto Hall.  We made leadership transitions in athletics and our football program, creating a more appropriate alignment of those programs with the academic mission of the university.  We are delighted to have Larry Teis and his staff leading those programs and are looking forward to an exciting year of sports.  The Service Learning Team developed and integrated, systematic program to provide all undergraduates an opportunity to participate in civic engagement as part of their academic experience. Our goal is to create an educational experience for our students that develops a sense of community and produces as commitment to public service in addition to enriching character and enhancing learning. Thanks to Oren Renick and the Service Learning Team for your past and continuing work.  And, of course, there was the wonderful announcement we made in February of the 20-million-dollar gift from Emmett and Miriam McCoy to the College of Business Administration. I wish all of you could know these two incredible, dear people.  We feel very honored to have their name on the building that is taking shape on Comanche Street. With all of that good news came some bad news.  Our hearts broke as we said goodbye to Jerry Supple, Jim Wacker, Stan Israel and Larry Hovis. They will always be a part of Texas State, but we will miss them terribly.  And so we look forward to another year together. This year I will focus on four areas particularly: the legislative session, the campus master plan, the revision of the university’s Table of Programs, and increasing faculty salaries and the size of the faculty. Specifically, in the legislative session we will pursue Tuition Revenue Bond authority for our highest priority projects:

  • an undergraduate academic center,
  • a performing arts center,
  • a second building in Round Rock and
  • deferred maintenance.

We will also seek special funding for start-up support for programs in engineering and nursing.  I have already mentioned the 10-year Campus Master Plan and the Table of Programs.  We will complete the Campus Master Plan process this fall and spring and have the plan in final form by next May.  We will complete the revision of our Table of Programs consistent with the directions outlined in our Strategic Plan. We will move ahead quickly with the development of our next two doctorial program proposals in computer science and mathematics education and lay the groundwork for one in criminal justice. Our revised Table of Programs will be recommended to our Board of Regents in November and to the Coordinating Board in January. We will work to increase the size of the faculty and to improve faculty salaries.  Again this year we will hire an additional 20 faculty, and again will allocate at least three of those for outstanding individuals who will help diversify our academic departments.  We will complete a second round of targeted faculty salary adjustments based on the leading national database, which will move our salaries closer to nationally competitive levels.  We plan to hire additional tenure-track faculty every year to replace the per-course faculty hired because of enrollment growth in the previous year.  Based on projections for this year, that would mean another 34 fulltime positions for academic year 06-07.  Also this year we are implementing a modified honor code that will involve a written pledge.  In addition to the code, an Honor Council has been established, composed of students and faculty, which will serve as the judiciary component to the policy. The Honor Code is a tangible effort to articulate and emphasize the fact that we recognize the importance of affirming and living by principles of integrity in all of our activities. Texas State is among the premier universities in the state that have adopted similar policies. The process that resulted in this code had been a long one, and we thank Steve Beebe and Stan Waywert for their leadership and all of the faculty and staff who have been involved in it. Another initiative for this year- one that I am truly excited about- is the “Common Experience.”  Early on, the vision was to connect entering students to a shared conversation, but it has quickly grown to include upper level classes, student support services, campus activities, performing arts and the San Marcos schools and community.  The theme of this year’s common experience is “hatred” and the common text for discussion is Elie Wiessel’s [EE-LEE wee-ZELL] book Night.  

Every freshmen was given a copy of the book at orientation and asked to read it during the summer. Now as our fall semester begins, the book will provide a central discussion pint for University Seminar classes and writing exercises for English 1310 classes. And as word of the initiative has spread, other faculty have expressed interest in including a discussion of hatred in their own classes. The Common Experience is not confined to the classroom. Matthew Shepard’s mother, Judy, Senator Bob Krueger and others will be speakers during the year. Chuck Pascoe [PASS-ko] is bringing back one of his plays on the theme. The Austin Symphony and other musical groups will explore the theme through original compositions. Residence halls will hold discussion sessions on the theme. Some classes at San Marcos High School will be involved. The intentional connecting of many facets of university life is the kind of project that a small, private liberal arts college might take on, but we cannot find evidence of a large, public university ever having undertaken something so ambitious and encompassing. Public television has expressed interest in following our progress as a documentary. I invite all of you to participate in this shared conversation. Suggestions for further involvement are welcome.  Chris Frost and Randall Osborne are points of contact for ideas. The Common Experience is a wonderful example of what we began talking about this morning, small changes and big results. One percent matters. The seeds of this initiative were sown in a London pub last summer, when a couple of our professors on a study-abroad trip discussed ways to make connections across the campus. The idea grew to include the entire campus and beyond. Small changes can have big results. A new faculty member, a new tenure and promotion policy, new words in the Mission Statement. It’s a new year for all of us, with many new things in it. I hope you are looking forward to it as much as I am. Thank you and have a great year!