TCU kicks off 134th academic year
|TCU Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. addresses campus at Fall Convocation|
Fort Worth, TX
9/7/2006At TCU's Fall Convocation today, Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. told faculty, staff and students that TCU is poised to become a world-class, values-centered university thanks to numerous accomplishments the university has recently made in relation to its strategic plan, Vision in Action (VIA).
Along with clarifying where the university is heading, the Chancellor also noted that VIA clearly defined the distinguishing hallmarks of a TCU education including that TCU, while being a smaller, friendlier campus, is a major comprehensive university, offering over 100 majors; that mentoring relationships between students and faculty are commonplace; that faculty esteem teaching and conduct research, often with students by their sides; that the development of individual student talent is of utmost importance; that students should define their personal beliefs and not have beliefs dictated to them; and that global thinking should be interwoven in academic programs along with opportunities to study abroad.
The Chancellor's convocation remarks follow; to listen to the Chancellor's remarks click here.
"Thank you, Provost Donovan. I'd also like to thank the TCU Concert Chorale for a truly inspiring beginning for today's Convocation. You exemplify the world-class quality of our School of Music.
We come together today to celebrate the beginning of Texas Christian University's 134th year and the vibrant academic life of this university. Today, we pause to look back upon the past year and forward toward the new year. We also will recognize the exemplary scholars and mentors who so define Texas Christian University.
Less than a decade ago, the university community surveyed all that is unique about TCU and in fewer than 20 words expressed why we are here: To educate individuals to think and act as ethical leaders and responsible citizens in the global community. What is truly amazing about TCU's mission statement is that almost any member of our community can recite it, word by word! And what is even more amazing is how it tightly has become woven into our collective life.
The TCU Core Curriculum is structured around the mission. The Transitions program, which guides our students through the developmental stages of young adulthood, also is centered upon it. In fact, each TCU class spends an entire year examining an individual element of the mission statement.
Now, I would like to consider TCU's vision. Perhaps you are having trouble remembering exactly what that vision is. But you will not after today! As most of you know, hundreds of faculty and staff, students and alumni came together in Vision in Action, our strategic planning effort, to chart TCU's future. Through Vision in Action and recent planning for a fund-raising campaign, TCU's vision has come sharply into focus. Our vision at last has crystallized around three powerful ideas:
We will create a world-class, values-centered university experience for our students. A world-class values-centered university experience.
We have much to celebrate today. We welcome a highly talented freshman class. For the past six years, the University has seen record numbers of applications. This year, TCU received more than 8,700 applications from entering freshmen which is five times the number of available spaces.
We have a thriving and changing campus surrounding us. In the last half-dozen years, TCU has invested some $200 million in facilities like the Tucker Technology Center, Smith Entrepreneurs Hall and the University Recreation Center. And with the $100-million Campus Commons, the $11.5-million Mabee Foundation Education Complex (all funds for which, I'm pleased to report, were raised) , the Harrison Building for Brite Divinity School, a new campus bookstore and an indoor practice field for intercollegiate athletics, we are creating an even more exceptional campus for future generations of Horned Frogs.
Our endowment, which has passed the one-billion dollar mark, is among the top 60 endowments of colleges and universities in the United States. We now have for the first time in the history of this great University a full-time Chief Investment Officer whose charge is to manage and grow our endowment.
TCU's reputation is growing, both near and far. In May, the Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce recognized this university's unique contributions to the city with its 2006 Spirit of Enterprise Award the first time an educational institution has been so honored. In New York, at the annual CASE International Summit for university leaders, no other institution was more prominent than TCU. In July, almost 400 international college admissions professionals from across the world met on our campus. They won't soon forget TCU or Fort Worth.
We can celebrate these achievements. But we cannot congratulate ourselves and rest on our laurels. For each item of good news can be followed with a thought-provoking "however."
The number of applications has risen consistently and dramatically. However, the choices of applicants and their families are becoming increasingly unpredictable. Many apply to numerous schools, then try to negotiate with competing universities for the best financial-aid package.
We have fine facilities and the promise of others that will significantly improve the student experience. However, students and faculty/staff all have ever changing needs. It is more difficult than ever to build for tomorrow's campus as change is happening at such a rapid pace.
With our endowment, we have a large savings account that supports our operating budget. However, even with an endowment of $1 billion, we are under-endowed for our size and aspirations. We know reputation charts closely with endowment. And we know we must keep tuition as low as possible.
This is a time when colleges and universities navigate in an extremely competitive environment. We compete for resources, students and reputation, not only with the 2,300 colleges and universities in this country, but also with institutions across the globe. We compete with private and public universities with other not-for-profit universities and a burgeoning number of for-profit schools.
At the same time, government resources are increasingly limited, affecting TCU in ways that may not be obvious. For example, every other year, the Texas Equalization Grant must be protected in the state's budget-making process, at a time when tuition at public universities is rising precipitously. These equalization grants subsidize the education of every TCU student. On the national level, student loans are more expensive and less accessible.
In these competitive and challenging times, we must be very good at what we do. Day after day, week after week, year after year, we must become better. We must know and clearly communicate who we are and what we want to be. Simply put, TCU has a remarkable story to tell.
What makes this university distinctive? What is it about TCU that inspires record numbers of applicants? What attracts accomplished professors, many who devote decades to this university? What makes TCU live so large in the memories of Horned Frog alumni that they come home a full 50 years after graduation to march in May Commencement? And what led our alumni, along with other friends, to commit $45 million last year alone to ensure that others can have the TCU experience?
Six characteristics define TCU:
First, TCU is a major comprehensive university.
Our students have many of the benefits found at large, flagship universities: rigorous academic programs research support from more than 100 different sources 100 undergraduate majors 20 graduate degrees in 54 areas, strengthening the entire educational enterprise one of the premier theological seminaries in the nation, Brite Divinity School and professors who are leaders in their disciplines like College of Fine Arts professor Elizabeth Gillaspy, who has been named the 2006 national dance educator of the year. The excellence of our professional offerings was well demonstrated in December when the first class of nurse anesthetists graduated all with jobs in this vital field, secured well before Commencement.
Yet TCU's roots are in the liberal arts, and much of our strength grows from this heritage. When reading The Chronicle of Higher Education, I came across a quote from our own Professor Richard Galvin of AddRan College, about teaching a course titled "The Meaning of Life."
"There is plenty of time [for students] to be worried about their careers," Dr. Galvin said. "But this might be the last time [they] get to talk about the big questions."
This is what it means to be a comprehensive university like TCU: The big questions get addressed - and careers do as well.
Second, TCU is a friendly community that "feels" like a smaller college.
Consider one of our pre-med students. When Antoine Scott was in charge of the "big-little" program for the pre-med honor society, Alpha Epsilon Delta, he spent the summer studying the pictures of incoming pre-med students and memorized their names and faces all so he could make them feel at home when they arrived. This is "friendly" on the individual level On the collective level are programs such as Frog Camp, freshman seminars, Transitions and 200 organizations that draw our students into the Horned Frog family.
TCU "feels" like a smaller college, in large part, because we are a residential university. With the opening this semester of the GrandMarc at Westberry Place, 600 more students now can benefit from the residential experience. Four residence halls in the Campus Commons will be the home of more than 600 additional sophomores, juniors and seniors. And the Brown-Lupton University Union will extend many of the advantages of a residential campus to all of our students.
Third, our professors are true teacher-scholars.
They are passionate about teaching and want to be in the classroom. It's why they're here. Yet our productive, well-published professors are frequently in the laboratory, conducting cutting-edge research, often with undergraduates at their sides.
Let me share with you a letter that recently came to my office. "Dear Dr. Boschini," sophomore Holly Bagzis wrote.
"First off, I just wanted to relay to you how much I love TCU! Since my first visit, I fell in love with the campus and after a year now under my belt, I have become part of the Horned Frog Family. Anyhow, this summer I decided to take classes at a college back home to complete some core classes, and something very quickly became apparent to me. Professors at this college do not even begin to compare to the professors at TCU. They do not care about their students nor give the time to make sure they even comprehend the material. What I am trying to say is I am so thankful for the professors at TCU. There is a vast difference between the way they teach and the professors I am dealing with right now. I am not sure if you are the one to directly thank for this, but I decided I would send the thank-you your way. So, thank you, Dr. Boschini, for all the wonderful professors at TCU."
Now, all our wonderful professors, I send Holly's thanks on to you!
Fourth, TCU is focused on developing the creative potential of each student.
When I speak of developing creative potential, you might think immediately of TCU graduate Adam Golka, who is spending this year performing Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. Or the College of Communication students who shot the film Tusccana in Italy and took the top prize in the prestigious Accolade competition this year. Or 10 theatre majors who presented their original performance piece, The Girl of 10,000 Smiles, at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland.
But I'd like to consider for a moment two less intuitive choices the Engineering Program and the Neeley School of Business. At many institutions, both of these disciplines are taught by the numbers and often to very large numbers of students in very large classes.
Our engineering program was designed to be different. Small classes and personal attention produce graduates with exemplary quantitative proficiency, as well as outstanding communication and interpersonal skills. In solving a real-life problem for a real-life firm, Alcon Laboratories, TCU's senior design project recently took top place in a national competition sponsored by Design News. The students also got high marks from their employer. Tim Habinak, a senior engineer at Alcon, commented: "I've actually been working on this particular problem for a couple of years, and came up with solutions, but none of them worked as well."
Then there is the Neeley School of Business. In contrast to many traditional programs, the Neeley School is honing a reputation for developing the special, creative ability that each individual can bring to the corporate world. Highlighting the effectiveness of this approach, the Wall Street Journal has rated Neeley's MBA program the highest among Texas business schools and 18th in the nation, while BusinessWeek ranks Neeley's undergraduate program 33rd in the country. As they say at the Neeley School: "It's more than business. It's personal." At TCU, it's always personal.
Fifth, this is a values-centered community.
TCU affirms the personal search for meaning and encourages students to think for themselves in matters of individual belief.
After this ceremony, we will move to the lawn for the Founders' Celebration. TCU was established in 1873 by brothers Addison and Randolph Clark. These two teachers and preachers had the vision to create one of the first co-educational schools west of the Mississippi. And through the Clarks, TCU's heritage is tied with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).
What does this mean in 2006? I greatly appreciate the work of a number of campus and church leaders headed by Dr. David Murph, our director of Church Relations. They spent nearly a year so that we can thoughtfully and clearly articulate TCU's church relationship and in only 75 words.
Let me share the result of their work:
Quote: "TCU is the largest of 18 colleges and universities associated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), a community embracing both faith and reason. With the full support of the Disciples, TCU is committed to the highest standard of scholarship, affording students the rigorous challenges that make higher education worthwhile. Reflection on the questions of meaning and value is crucial to genuine learning. TCU's covenant with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) supports this kind of education." Close quote.
Simply put, at TCU, we don't tell students WHAT to think. But we DEMAND that they DO think!
When the KinderFrogs School earned national accreditation and last spring graduated its largest class ever of young children with Down syndrome when Starpoint School hosted a camp for homeless childrenwhen the junior class raised $51,000 and built their Habitat for Humanity FrogHouse when students in Harris College created an exercise program for children in public schools when the Honors Program and AddRan College raised the level of discourse with the "Jefferson for Today" conference when students in the College of Science & Engineering researched issues of healthcare availability all were demonstrating TCU's commitment to values and service.
Sixth, TCU is a globally engaged institution.
Classes are taught with an international perspective. Study-abroad opportunities are prevalent. We welcome students from scores of nations each year. Our mission demands that our graduates become true citizens of the global community.
However, it would be disingenuous not to note that the environment of international higher education has changed, particularly since September 11th. It has become increasingly more difficult for students from other nations to enter this country. Travel has become more cumbersome. The economy of China is in ascendance, and study in that part of the globe has grown especially attractive. As journalist Tom Friedman has noted: "The world is flat." And the best and the brightest from across the world no longer have to study in the U.S. to achieve success.
I have asked Provost Nowell Donovan to bring together some of the best minds on campus to address these issues, to clarify TCU's interests abroad and to determine how this university can best fulfill the vital global aspect of our mission.
This, then, is TCU's story. The story of a small college that grew into a major comprehensive university yet preserved its warmth and concern for the individual the home of distinguished teacher-scholars who are focused on developing the creative potential of each student entrusted to their care a values-affirming community, whose graduates are citizens of the world.
This is why I am convinced that TCU is uniquely positioned to deliver what is most needed in our challenging times: a world-class, values-centered university experience that produces ethical leaders with the power, the skills and the commitment to transform the future.
I am convinced TCU will continue to be recognized among the finest universities anywhere in the select academic areas in which we compete. TCU will provide a student experience surpassed by none. TCU graduates will compete successfully with the best graduates from the best schools across the globe.
I am convinced TCU will provide a university experience that affirms the personal search for meaning and encourages students to think for themselves that creates opportunities to solve significant societal problems and that offers academic and co-curricular programs which develop ethical leaders ideally suited for a rapidly changing world.
How will we achieve this vision? Only with superlative academic offeringsscholarships that attract students who can benefit most from a TCU education support for outstanding and committed teacher-scholars vital new facilities an ethical and winning athletic program and a strong Annual Fund that benefits every school and college.
Consequently, the University has embarked upon its most ambitious comprehensive fund-raising campaign, with a preliminary goal of $250 million. The first year of the leadership gift phase of this campaign closed on May 31st with an unprecedented $45.6 million in gifts and pledges a 56 percent increase over the previous year. And, the campaign total as of August 31 exceeded $65 million. What an achievement for Vice Chancellor Don Whelan and the Advancement team! We expect to launch the public phase of the campaign in a year to 18 months. Again, I am confident of TCU's success.
What an exciting time this is in the life of our University! And what unique opportunities lay before us as we create a world-class, values-centered university experience!
It is now my pleasure to present the 2006 Wassenich Award for Mentoring in the TCU Community. Because of their own rich experiences as students, Mark and Linda Wassenich established this unique honor in 1999.
The Wassenich family is very important to TCU. The late Dr. Paul Wassenich, Mark's father, was a longtime professor of undergraduate religion and founder of the TCU Honors Program, and Mark's mother, Ruth Wassenich, provided distinguished service to the Mary Couts Burnett Library. We are honored that Mark and Linda Wassenich and Ruth Wassenich are with us today.
The Wassenich Award recognizes a member of the faculty and staff who has made a significant difference as a mentor in the lives of students and carries a cash value of $2,500. This year, four finalists were selected by the awards committee, which was charged with reviewing 75 nominations from students and alumni. This is a remarkable number of nominations and a testament that TCU is indeed a warm, caring and values-centered community a place that changes lives.
I am pleased to ask this year's finalists to stand:
- Ms. Denise Bennett, Pre-Med Program Specialist, Pre-Health Professions
- Dr. David R. Cross, Associate Professor, Psychology
- Dr. Keith Whitworth, Instructor, Sociology, Criminal Justice and Anthropology
- Ms. Carrie Zimmerman, Assistant Dean and Director of the First Year Experience, Student Development Services
This year's recipient of the Wassenich Award not only helps to create the unique TCU experience, but benefited from it herself. After graduating from Vanderbilt University, she attended our own Brite Divinity School, earning a Master of Divinity degree. Often, our Wassenich Award recipient is the first TCU staff member that students and parents meet. Notes one of those students: "She speaks at Monday at TCU, travels to TCU Sneak Previews, coordinates every Frog Camp and orientation and does extensive work with the TCU Leadership Program. In many ways, she has become the face of this university, and there is not a person who could better represent the Horned Frogs."
"She has spent her years at TCU creating a positive learning environment, challenging students to grow and focusing on the development of the whole student," a recent graduate comments. "Through mentoring her student orientation and Frog Camp staffs, she encourages activities that challenge new students to step out of their comfort zones and begin to behave like responsible adults. By doing so, she influences the entire campus culture."
And that is intentional. "By earnestly being available to others," our recipient notes, "we can fight the trends of selfishness, greed and violence. By tackling tough issues, facing up to difficulties and simply living our lives supporting one another, we can create communities, acceptance and hope."
These inspiring words so appropriate as we begin a new academic year are those of Carrie Zimmerman, assistant dean and director of the First Year Experience the recipient of the 2006 Wassenich Award for Mentoring in the TCU Community.
Provost Nowell Donovan now will introduce the recipients of School and College Awards for Distinguished Achievement as a Creative Teacher and Scholar. Dr. Donovan
It is a great privilege to present the 2006 Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Achievement as a Creative Teacher and Scholar. I congratulate each school and college nominee on your selection and thank each of you for your contributions to the intellectual vitality and reputation of Texas Christian University.
It should come as no surprise that selecting one recipient among this very distinguished group would be a formidable task in fact, it was an impossible one. This year, we have two exceptional recipients of the Chancellor's Award.
Over four decades, our first recipient has lived large in the life of TCU, his colleagues and his students. And his influence extends far beyond the campus borders.
In 1973, our Chancellor's Award recipient founded the Educational Investment Fund at TCU. By managing a $1.5 million portfolio, his students have developed the skills that have taken so many on to successful careers on Wall Street. In the words of a colleague, the EIF "has put TCU on the map" in business studies and "changed the way portfolio management and investment is taught in the U.S. and globally." More than 100 schools have emulated the TCU model.
Our recipient has published 35 books and more than 50 articles in leading journals. He is one of the three leading textbook authors in the world of academic finance. Foundations of Financial Management is now in its 12th edition, and the 9th edition of Fundamentals of Investment Management will soon be published. Well over a million students throughout the world have read his books.
The Neeley School has selected him as its outstanding teacher seven times, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. This master teacher notes: "While I have probably given out as many D's and F's as A's and B's to my 6,000 former students, I have always treated every student as a very special person. I read every comment in my student evaluations and take both positive and negative comments very seriously. I still consider myself a work in progress."
No wonder those students created and funded the Stan Block Endowed Chair in Finance in 2002 the only chair ever created by students to honor a professor in TCU's history.
I am delighted to present the 2006 Chancellors Award to Dr. Stanley Block.
Our other Chancellor's Award recipient is also an exceptional example of the teacher-scholar model that so defines the TCU faculty. A 2004 recipient of the Deans Award for Research and Creative Activities, he is a highly respected investigator in his fields of research, DNA repair mechanisms and aging. He has published 56 peer-reviewed papers, has made 63 presentations at professional meetings and has obtained grants totaling $640,000, including four from the National Institutes of Health. As a colleague observes: "NIH grants are among the most competitive in the world."
The winner of numerous teaching awards, he has been described as "one of TCU's most difficult professors in the sciences." "Yet his courses were in high demand," a former student, now an M.D., notes: "This was evident even in freshman biology. When he was lecturing, the room was always packed."
In addition to excelling in research and teaching, our recipient chairs one the most successful pre-health programs in the nation. The acceptance rate of TCU students to medical, dental and veterinarian programs is about 80 percent twice the national average. An acceptance rate of this caliber obviously requires exceptional guidance of our pre-med students.
Our Chancellor's Award recipient observes: "It's only natural to focus on our superstars, the students accepted to the most prestigious medical schools. "But I derive equal pleasure from helping students who are solid applicants but lack stellar grade-point averages and MCAT scores I like to think our mentoring efforts just might have tipped the balance in favor of their acceptance into medical school." Not surprisingly, this professor was recognized with the Wassenich Award for Mentoring in the TCU community in 2000.
Now Dr. Phil Hartman can add to his list of achievements the 2006 Chancellor's Award for Distinguished Achievement as a Creative Teacher and Scholar.