Thursday, Feb. 11, MSU Texas hosted the Board of Regents meeting virtually through Zoom, with a live stream link available publicly at msutexas.edu, giving an update on MSU’s current and future projects.
In her SGA report, Shelbi Stogdill, SGA president and political science, history and global studies senior, praised faculty and administration for helping students navigate the last semester. She also introduced several planned events for Spring 2021. Among these was the President’s Networking Event (an event to connect the presidents of all student organizations), tabling to promote COVID-19 guidelines, clothing recycling, the formalization of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee and the SGA’s textbook reserve initiative.
“The next, most exciting update is our textbook initiative. I just got a report from our secretary that we have 100 textbooks that have been donated thus far, and those will all go to the library and go on course reserve. A lot of them are core classes; some are more specific,” Stogdill said.
Texas colleges and universities as a whole saw a roughly 3.6% decline in enrollment, with community colleges being hit particularly hard as their enrollment was down almost 9%. Fred Dietz, Vice President of enrollment management, said this had a large impact on transfer student enrollment, which might explain why MSU saw a roughly 7% decline in Fall 2020 in this category. While the number of accepted first-time students, 3,638, was higher than in 2019, the number of enrolled first-time students, 796, was down significantly. This yield of 21% was far below Dietz’s ideal goal for it to be in the low 30’s. Dietz partially blames the low yield on less in-person recruitment.
“I think what we learned the most was that its really important for MSU to be in front of students, to be in front of families, to be face to face, to offer on-campus visits and to do those things where we can interact. We did pivot, and we did everything virtually…. That’ll do in a pinch, but it’s not really where we need to be,” Dietz said.
Youth Protection Program Guidebook
The board approved the Youth Protection Program Guidebook, which protects minors in campus programs. Under the rules in the guidebook, minors must be accompanied at all times by one adult who has undergone the required training and a background check. Dr. Keith Lamb, vice president of student affairs and enrollment management, said he is open to modifications to the guidebook, such as requiring two adults to accompany a minor and for the adults to be the same sex as the minor.
“The goal of the guidebook is to promote safety in minors participating in campus programs. The guidebook itself provides requirements, resources, contact information, processes, forms and just general issues. We modeled the guidebook after guidebooks at the University of Texas at Austin and Rutgers,” Lamb said.
Kyle Owens, associate vice president of facilities services, provided an update on ongoing construction. The old Daniel building has begun its reconstruction into the Bridwell Activities Center with the remodeling and reconfiguring of several walls. Lights were also added to crosswalk signs to make them more noticeable to drivers. The Dillard family donated a portrait of the late A.R. “Bud” Dillard Jr., and it has since been added to the west atrium of the Dillard College of Business Administration.
“[The Daniel Building] will be ready in the fall of next year. It will not be ready at the start of the semester; I expect it will be more mid-semester. We ran into some underground issues… so we’ve had to step back and readdress those,” Owens said.
MSU Texas’ Annual Financial Report for the year ended August 31, 2020, listed three “internal strengths” the university believes contributed to its financial success and will allow it to achieve its future goals. These three strengths are a “positive reputation and generous support,” “membership in the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges (COPLAC)” and “educational value.” The university believes its positive reputation is a result of rebranding to be known as MSU Texas and extensive recruitment in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex. They believe their membership in COPLAC fits the current trends in universities across the nation towards public liberal arts. The university also went from number 46 to number 28 in the US World and News Report’s list of best colleges in the “Social Mobility for Regional Universities in the West” category.
“When we did our budget last year, you may recall, that we did it with a foundation of conservatism…. Well, that conservatism played out very well for us. In the Fall, our [overall] enrollment both for headcount and semester credit hours was actually up. Our Flower Mound sight continues to grow in leaps and bounds. For the top fall term, in particular, we had a NET revenue pickup on tuition and fees of $233,000,” Dr. Beth Reissenweber, vice president for administration and finance, said.