The TCU Board of Trustees outlines a plan for the university for the next six years.
by Nancy Bartosek
More from Spring 2012
More in Campus News: Alma Matters
Topics: Campus news
by Nancy Bartosek
Person-centered academic excellence housed in extraordinary facilities built for a 21st century education. That’s what the Board of Trustees decided the TCU of tomorrow will be when they met for a two-day retreat in February.
The meeting marked the start of Phase III of the University’s strategic planning process called Vision in Action (VIA). The VIA plans approved in February by the Board will build on recent successes and be tied to the next fundraising campaign, says Chancellor Victor J. Boschini Jr.
“All of us here — the students, the Board, our alums and the faculty and staff — have taken this place from a great regional university to a good national university,” he says. “Now we’re going to make it a great national university.”
To do that, the Board focused on three key, intricately connected areas: Academic profile and reputation; size and balance; and optimal campus environment. Key to the plans is the creation of an “Intellectual Commons” on the east campus, capping enrollment and building enough residence halls to house every student who wants to live on campus.
By setting limits on total enrollment while improving academic programs, TCU will remain the kind of school the founders envisioned.
“The hallmark of TCU since 1873 is that the students have a real opportunity to know the faculty and staff, both inside and outside the classroom,” Boschini says. “These plans will guarantee that for the foreseeable future that will continue to happen. TCU will remain student centered.”
Board Chairman Clarence Scharbauer III ’73, who has served on the Board of Trustees for more than 20 years, said that there is no time in the history of TCU that he has been more proud to be a Horned Frog.
“This is TCU’s finest moment, and it’s only going to get better,” he says. “Everything is moving in the right direction. We have the right leadership and there are a whole lot of people very excited about the future of this University.”
We asked Boschini to elaborate on the plans; here are his thoughts:
Vision in Action is a living, on-going strategic planning process, designed to be reevaluated every six years when a new Board chair is selected. In Phase II, under Luther King’s direction, we built with a flurry, adding a slew of facilities, including the Campus Commons, Scharbauer Hall, a new stadium, an Admission building, new and renovated space for the College of Education, and more.
We will conclude The Campaign for TCU in May, and we completed nearly every goal we set six years before. Now we will begin planning for the next campaign, so it’s time to look at what we need to do in the next four to six years under the leadership of Clarence Scharbauer. It’s a perfect stepping off point.
Why limit enrollment to 10,000?
After next fall, if we take another “normal” class, it’s only going to be another 200 students to reach 10,000. After that, After that, we’re going to really push the breaks down. We’re drawing a line in the sand and saying 10,000 is our max: 8,500 undergrads, 1,500 grad. After that you lose the feel of what is TCU. And that’s why were saying we want to keep student:faculty ration to less than 14:1. If you’re an undergraduate at TCU, you’ll feel only the positive effects of this plan.
Are we far from having a student body mix of 60 percent from Texas, 40 percent out-of-state or international?
In our last freshman class we were there, but not in our overall ratio. So if we keep taking classes of 60 percent from Texas, we’ll get to that eventually. Right now we’re about 67:33. So we are looking for a few more from out of state.
Why so many from Texas if the goal is national and international recognition?
One, because of the size of Texas. Texas is probably the size of five Iowas. If you were from 200 miles away from my last school in Illinois, you would live in Iowa. From here, you’re in Austin. So you have to factor in the enormity of Texas.
The other thing is that the bread and butter of TCU is that we revel in the culture of Texas. We like that. And I think we ought to honest about that. I also think that’s what attracts our out-of-state students because they love it too.
So I don’t think we ought lose that flavor, but I also think you can’t be a great national university with students only from Texas.
The target goals for SAT and ACT scores are only a bit above current scores. Why?
It looks small, but it’s very hard to do. But because we’ve managed to already raise them over the past few years, people think it’s easy. We’ve been able to do it because we used to have 5,400 applications, now we have 20,000. But that’s not normal. Trust me, the goal we set is very ambitious. We’ve really made good progress in the past few years, so now we’re raising it again.
It’s important to remember that not all these goals will take six years to accomplish and not all these goals will remain static. For example, let’s say we reach 27 on the ACT and 1200 on the SAT in year one, then we’ll revise. I would say in general, none of these goals are in concrete, they are all in liquid. You can plan long term, but something is going to change in the environment. Usually positive change.
Explain the Intellectual Commons and how the library fits in that concept.
We’re going to make our library into the library of the 21st century by invigorating it and reissuing the call to everyone on campus that the library is the heart of academic learning at Texas Christian University. I think, in general, that schools have gotten away from that because people don’t need the library anymore. They think of it in the old-fashioned way.
It’s not going to be bigger, it’s not going to be smaller, but it’s going to look completely different inside and out. It will have less stacks of books, more interactive study places. Less quiet; more noisy. It’ll have food. It’ll be a place people go 24/7 — which they do now some, but we don’t have enough space. We have thousands and thousands of books that haven’t been taken out since 1963. We don’t need to have those books on site. They can be in a storage space and when you want them, you can put in a request and have them delivered the next day.
The whole building will look entirely different from the outside as well. You’ll enter on the first floor because those steps we have now say Don’t come in the library. So we’re putting a new entrance on the front, facing University Drive, and on the back. There will be a colonnade along the south side just like we have in the Commons, to bring that same feeling to the library.
The “V” section at the back of the library [where the current Information Commons is housed] will be cut off. A new academic building will be constructed back there that will eventually become part of the library. In the short term that will be swing space for when we redo the College of Nursing. Then in two years, that’s our space for the library to grow into, and that whole thing will be our Intellectual Commons.
The Energy Institute, which is one of the academic areas we will be focusing on, will have it’s own facility next to it.
When you say redo nursing and business, do you mean change the wallpaper or redo like Jarvis Hall?
Yes, redo like the Bailey building. Radically. The two Neeley buildings will be brought together more effectively and they will make a U with a courtyard in the center. There will be an addition on Annie Richardson Bass Hall, and they will gut the current building and completely redo that. So while that is happening, the college will live in this new building behind the library.
You mentioned interdisciplinary learning. Explain that more.
That’s what this whole new building behind the library will be for. It will be a fusion of nursing, business, science, English, and so on. It will have swing space for academic things, but it will be part of the library. Not a library not like we’re used to, it will be an Intellectual Commons.
Is integrating disciplines key to the kind of education we offer?
Yes. I think it’s already happening in higher education. It is already happening here, but we want it to happen even more. And I think it’s going to be easier for a school our size to do this because it’s more manageable. And because you and I know each other. I know the head of math, I know the head of English, and so forth. People can work better together because they’re more familiar with one another. And the bureaucracy is not as stifling.
There are 3,500 colleges, and I’ve gone to four and worked at seven, but I’ve never been to a school where you could do creative, interdisciplinary teaching as easily as here. I think the size affects that, but it’s more the culture of our school, it’s more what the faculty here expect they should do.
How will the Quality Enhancement Program’s Big Idea, which is now being selected, fit in to the Intellectual Commons?
It’s my idea that the Big Idea will be housed in this building. The Big Idea is going to be so big, I’m thinking, that it will be years in the making — sort of like one of those ‘world peace’ goals: Something you always want to work towards, even if you never complete it, but it’s still worthwhile. It’s going to have to have some sort of administrative structure, and it might be housed in this building.
Can you elaborate on plans for campus housing?
Worth Hills will be completely transformed — it will be a gorgeous park, even more of a ‘Wow’ when it’s finished than what we have now in the Campus Commons. It will be a very large housing corridor with a parking garage and an eatery. This is not for the Greeks, this is for everybody. But the Greek housing will be there too.
We’ve already started on two halls for upperclassmen in Worth Hills that will be finished in January 2013, and the Board decided that after that we will begin rehabbing the Greek housing. All the existing houses will be demolished because they are so old that they have many HVAC issues and asbestos and all sorts of things. We have to put an elevator in each building, which would take out 11 rooms, so it’s just easier to start all over. Right now there’s a committee of Greek alums and others who are looking at this. They are leaning more toward larger houses rather than ones that only house the officers. They probably won’t build dorms like we have now, they would be more like condos.
The Board voted to build a new residence hall in Worth Hills every year until we can house every student on campus, or until the demand stops. When Vanderbilt did this, at 91 percent they found they satiated the market
The Campaign for TCU, which exceeded its original goal of $250 million and raised more than $417 million, ends May 31. What’s next for fundraising?
For the next campaign, which will we begin planning June 1, we need to be endowment heavy and building light. In The Campaign for TCU, we were facility heavy because we needed to be. Now we are reversing that. For the future of the school, we need to maintain our student body where it is and build our endowment.
With a bigger endowment, we could give scholarships to as many students as we want. We could shape our class any way we want it. We could hire as many faculty and staff as we need because we have that great thing behind us called the endowment, which spits off all this money we can use. We only use five percent of the endowment, but five percent of $1 billion is a lot less than five percent of $2 billion.
What do you want alumni to take away from this announcement?
“The hallmark of TCU since 1873 is that you, the student, have a real opportunity to know the faculty and staff, both inside and outside the classroom. These plans will guarantee that for the foreseeable future that will continue to happen. TCU will remain student centered.
With these plans we are reaffirming that nationally we are the teacher/scholar model. We don’t want people who just want to teach and we don’t want people who just want to do research. It must be a combination. And you must involve your students in both sections of that. I want our students to be able to come here and do research as an undergrad, and I want them to be the beneficiaries of this amazing teaching.
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