Of the 52 university systems in the United States, the Texas State University System is the 19th largest and one of the fastest growing, most dynamic of all of the systems. With eight institutions, 12 campuses, 78,000 students and 15,000 faculty and staff, we are a large enterprise. Yet, it would be difficult (if not impossible) to find a more efficient university system administration. In fact, it is easy to find university systems less than half our size, with fewer campuses, with 12 times the number of system office personnel. I prefer our lean and efficient model. It empowers the university presidents and leaves more money on the campuses where it belongs.
The Texas State University System is the most efficient system in the state as evidenced by:
• The System has an average administrative cost of $1,300 per full-time student, which is 19 percent less than the state average and 33 percent less than some other Texas university systems. In fact, this represents a seven percent decrease in administrative costs over the past six years (while the statewide average is a 15 percent increase in that same period).
• As a testament to our efficiency, over the past five years our full-time student equivalents have increased at a rate that is 70 percent higher than that of our institutional support costs over the past five years. This at a time when the rate of increase for institutional support costs across all systems has almost doubled that of the growth in full-time students.
• The System average annual appropriation per degree at our universities is 19 percent lower than the state average.
• System faculty teach on average 17 percent more credit hours than the state average.
• Over the past decade, enrollment growth at System institutions has outpaced faculty growth by almost 100 percent.
• System degree production per full-time student equivalent has increased by 24 percent over the last decade.
• The ratio of faculty and staff to students across all systems is more than 50 percent higher than in our System.
• The average square footage per full-time student equivalent across all systems is 37 percent higher than in the System, 103.7 square feet versus 75.7. Moreover, with 60 percent of our space given to teaching compared to 48 percent across all systems, the System is committed to allocating our limited space to our core function of teaching. We are committed to being even more efficient in our use of space by using more online and hybrid instruction. Online enrollments are up dramatically at both Lamar University and Sam Houston State University. About one-third of all credit hours at Lamar are generated through online courses and Sam Houston State has more than 15 percent of its credit hours online.
While our System is already very efficient, the System delivered even more efficiencies in the past year by:
• Refinancing bonds with an annual savings of over $2 million.
• Competitively remarketing system insurance needs resulting in the savings of $2 million annually in insurance
• Continuing to develop a system-wide E-purchasing system.
• Re-designing of current facilities, and incorporating design savings in new construction for energy efficiencies.
The System has worked to educate policy makers and opinion leaders about the System’s efficiencies and effectiveness by:
• Developing the System’s first Productivity Dashboard that details efficiencies across the System.
• Launching a multi-media marketing campaign to explain the System’s efficiencies and effectiveness to opinion leaders and policy makers across the state.
• Publishing a 12-page Annual Report featuring System data and each of the System institutions.
• Coordinating events such as the System Foundation Gala attended by many legislators and state-wide elected officials including the Governor, Lt. Governor and the Speaker of the House.
• Organizing editorial board meetings with the Dallas Morning News, San Antonio Express-News and the Austin American-Statesman, which editorially set the tone for discussion of higher education’s issues before the 83rd Legislature.
Because of the System efficiencies noted above and because of the efforts of System and campus officials to tell our story, System institutions in the 83rd Legislature received:
• More than $48 million in new, recurring operations General Revenue, which is an increase of 13.9 percent.
• An increase of $8 million in institutional enhancement funding.
• Almost $5 million in new funding for Hazlewood Legacy students.
Over the past two years, I have challenged our System and institutions to Pick Up the Pace and then to Set the Pace in assuring progress for our System. Because of the hard work of our institution leaders, faculty and staff, I feel comfortable in assuring you that our System has been Hitting Our Stride over the past year.
• Our graduates are successful, with over 80 percent employed or in graduate school. This is the highest percentage of any Texas university system. We are increasing and improving career advising, particularly for first and second year students, at most of our institutions. New centers have been created at Texas State University, Sul Ross State University and Lamar University for this purpose, while Sam Houston State University has a highly acclaimed center which provides such advising.
• Our System continues to have the lowest average tuition and fees in the state. We are 13 percent below the state average.
• The Texas State University System produced almost 16,000 degrees and certificates this year, a 55 percent increase over the past decade. This growth in degree production exceeds the state’s average growth.
• Our graduates have an average debt of approximately $14,000 per graduate – comparatively low among university systems in Texas. Efforts to manage the financial demands on our students are many, including:
1. Development of fixed rate tuition options on all campuses.
2. Financial counseling at Sam Houston State University by its award-winning Student Money Management Center, which advises over 1,000 students every semester.
3. Development of significant new scholarships at Sul Ross State University, Lamar University, Lamar State College – Orange, Lamar Institute of Technology and at most of the other institutions.
4. Developing a $10,000 degree at Sul Ross State University – Rio Grande College.
5. Developing/implementing an emergency loan web application at Texas State University to facilitate quick access to emergency tuition funds.
• The System’s enrollment has grown by 34 percent over the past decade, a much higher rate of growth than the average of the state.
• The six-year graduation rate in the System has grown by 22 percent over the past decade, far exceeding changes in the state average. Our institutions are pursuing numerous strategies to increase retention and graduation rates such as:
1. The opening of the Personalized Academic and Career Exploration (PACE) Center at Texas State University which provides almost 13,000 advising appointments during each academic year to new freshmen.
2. The continuing success and achievements of the SAM Center at Sam Houston State University, which serves as a national model for advising and mentoring first year students. SAM Center Director Dr. Bill Fleming was given the 2013 Outstanding Advising Administration Award by NACADA, the preeminent national student advising professional organization.
3. Creation of the University Undergraduate Advisement Center at Lamar University, which provides proactive academic and career advising to all freshmen and sophomores.
4. The development of a central undergraduate advising center at Sul Ross State University, which provides comprehensive advising to all first year students.
5. Development of a computerized attendance program at Lamar State College – Port Arthur, which provides an early warning system when a student’s class absences become excessive.
6. Increased use of online orientation sessions at Lamar Institute of Technology, which are designed to assure the success of online students.
7. Implementation of the “I WILL” program at Lamar University, which provides strong academic support for at-risk students who were provisionally admitted into the university. The “I WILL” students participate in tutorial, mentoring and student support programs.
8. Maintenance of the Academic Early Alert Program at Texas State University, which strives to increase attendance in freshmen classes and to follow up with students needing assistance.
9. Establishment of a College Success Division at Lamar State College – Orange that offers a mandatory college success course for entering students.
10. Increase in Lamar Institute of Technology faculty and staff serving as mentors to students. Likewise, Lamar State College – Orange has increased use of faculty as mentors to compliment the work of the professional advising staff.
11. The Brilliant Bobcats Program at Texas State University which helps freshmen on probation understand why they are on probation and to develop skills to get off probation.
12. Significant enhancement in the Writing Center at Texas State University, which has significantly reduced the number of Fs and Ws in first year composition and encouraged many more successful outcomes in first year English.
13. Implementation of a new approach at Lamar State College – Orange to teaching students with reading and writing deficiencies by adding an Integrated Reading and Writing course that addresses these needs simultaneously, which reduces the number of developmental classes for students in reading and writing from two to one.
• Transfer students are welcomed in the System. About 37 percent of all baccalaureate graduates in the System transferred 30 or more hours to our institutions, a higher percentage than the state average. All four universities work closely with community colleges to facilitate the transfers of their students into our institutions. For example, Sam Houston State University and Texas State University have about 5,000 program articulation agreements with community colleges that provide specific paths to graduation and also provide reverse transfer opportunities for students.
Because of the success of our institutions, they have achieved significant fundraising goals.
• Both Texas State University and Lamar University have greatly exceeded their campaign goals. Lamar University has raised over $130 million and Texas State University has raised over $141 million.
• Sam Houston State University had a banner year in fundraising with over 10,000 donors and gifts in excess of $9 million.
• Sul Ross State University has raised over $1 million in gifts.
• Lamar Institute of Technology has exceeded $500,000 in gifts.
• Lamar State College – Orange has received over $1 million in gifts.
And, there are other notable accomplishments of our institutions:
• Welcomed a new university President with the arrival of Dr. Ken Evans in July 2013.
• Created and endowed a new Honors College.
• Realized dramatic growth of the online doctoral program in Educational Leadership from 35 students in 2011 to 230 students in 2013.
• Recognition of the Deaf Studies Program by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board for the Incentive Award, one of only two programs in the state so recognized.
• Ranked fourth in the nation as the most affordable college online by affordablecollegesonline.org.
• Ranked second out of 38 public universities in Texas placing students in the workforce 12 months after graduation.
• Ranked second in “Best Online Graduate Computer Information Technology” program by U. S. News & World Report. Also ranked 37th in “Best Online Graduate Education Program.”
• Received the Southland Conference Commissioner’s Cup for overall athletic performance, including the second time in the FCS football championship game.
• The Cheer Team won the 2013 National Cheerleaders Association Championship, its second-in-a-row.
• Recognized by The Chronicle of Higher Education for the fourth consecutive year as “A Great College to Work For.”
• Implemented an aggressive recruitment and retention program which includes: a new Banner Communication Management Program used to communicate more effectively with prospective and current students, a new visitation program for prospective students and parents to meet the Lobo family called “Sully Showcase,” a first year freshmen seminar course designed to assimilate new students into the college environment, mandatory advising for all students and staff mentoring programs for all new freshmen. As a result of these and other efforts, summer enrollment is up seven percent and the fall enrollment is likely to be up dramatically.
• Created the first $10,000 degree in the System.
• Developed the new Ranch Management Program with an emphasis in Exotic Ranch Management.
• Football team had the number one offense in the nation in Division III.
• Increased research funding to $36.6 million, an increase of nearly 10 percent over the previous year.
• Opened Star Research Park and recruited first four companies into it.
• Entered NCAA Division I FBS Western Athletic Conference.
• Opened the Bobcat Stadium North Side Complex.
• Completed Five Year Strategic University Plan.
• Ranked number one in the nation for two-year institutions offering the Associate Degree in Science Technologies.
• 100 percent passing rates for students in licensure programs.
• Renovated facilities for Welding Technologies, Ventilation and Air Conditioning, Industrial Mechanics Technology and Advanced Engine Technology.
• Successfully completed fifth – year interim accreditation report to SACS.
• Expanded dual credit articulation to include 13 area high schools.
• Completing construction of the nursing classroom building.
• Participated in the New Mathways Project, sponsored by the University of Texas, which is designed to facilitate the successful completion of math degree requirements for all students.
• Installed Degree Audit software, which allows students to see which courses they need to complete.
• Increased contact hour production by 18 percent over the previous year, second highest increase among all 57 community districts and state colleges.
• Energy Conservation Plan is producing electricity savings of 37 percent and natural gas savings of 54 percent.
• Three-year graduation rates continue to outpace all other two-year institutions.