Tarleton State University exists to provide an academically challenging educational experience through effective teaching, scholarship, research and service, enabling students to pursue truth and acquire the understanding, knowledge and skills necessary for establishing successful careers and becoming responsible citizens and leaders.
Priorities and Goals
Each of the following seven goal areas has a specific priority of supporting the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board’s (THECB’s) “Closing the Gaps” objectives of success, excellence and research.
Excellence in Scholarship and Learning
- Attract, develop and retain a well-qualified faculty
- Improve academic administrative and instructional support services
Student Services and Campus Life
- Increase student participation in campus organizations that inspire independent thinking and promote responsibility
- Increase participation in volunteer community projects
Access, Equity and Inclusion
- Provide leadership in promoting access and inclusion within and outside the campus
- Actively pursue processes for recruiting and educating a student body reflecting the population of Texas
- Increase academic and non-academic student participation in leadership and service opportunities
- Identify and recognize exemplary commitments to service and leadership
- Assist academic and administrative departments in securing external funding of programs and services for university development and foundation accounts
- Serve as the alumni contact for approximately 45,000 former students and friends to create an atmosphere for volunteer support and alumni/friend participation
Personnel and Resources
- Increase the funds available for research and service projects that enhance the campus culture by promoting scholarship and excellence in learning
- Enhance and improve Tarleton’s financial condition and stability through effective management of personnel, financial, physical and library resources
- Provide resources, plans and support to protect the university’s information resources and data
- Provide integrated support to enable faculty, staff, students and other users to effectively use technology
Commentary on Top Priorities
- Expand Tarleton’s presence in the Fort Worth and Waco areas through avenues such as additional on-site degree programs
- Increased the number of course and degree offerings in Tarrant and McLennan counties.
- Prepared future planned course offerings to assist students in the completion of degrees.
- Review and update the campus master plan for the Stephenville campus as it relates to future growth, ensuring the campus has adequate land and capacity for an expanding student enrollment
- Acquired land to the north of the campus in the past 10 years which is now largely developed
- Targeted potential land purchases
- Support Tarleton-Central Texas (T-CT) in activities and projects that assist in achieving the state-mandated independence of the university center
- Developed documents that describe possible new internal administrative structures in preparation for the eventual independence of T-CT
- Initiated a detailed review of steps necessary for the formation of a separate campus
- Pursued the possibility of acquiring 662 acres of land to establish a permanent site for the future campus
- Support the development of new doctoral, masters’, and relevant undergraduate degree programs
- Implemented an Ed.D. degree program in educational leadership in fall 2003
- Explored the need for other advanced degree programs in the Tarleton service area
Commentary on Other Topics
In terms of semester credit hours and headcount, Tarleton’s enrollment has grown 19.9 percent from FY 2000 to FY 2004, which equates to approximately 5 percent per year. It is anticipated that Tarleton’s annual student enrollment will continue to increase at a rate of 2 to 5 percent. The demographics of the historical recruiting area for Tarleton students are changing. In general, counties to the west of Stephenville have experienced decreases in population while counties to the east and south are showing gains. In reaction, the university is expanding recruitment efforts and educational opportunities in Tarrant, McLennan and surrounding counties.
An analysis of affordability data from FY 2001 to FY 2004 reveals a 35.1 percent increase in the amount of scholarships and grants awarded. The percent change for institutionally funded scholarships was 56.6 percent. Thus, a larger number of students are receiving scholarships and grants to assist in financing their education. During the same period, average borrower indebtedness decreased 2.2 percent. A 2004-2005 survey conducted by the THECB showed Tarleton as having the lowest resident cost among the state’s 34 public universities. More than 80 percent of Tarleton students receive scholarships, grants, and/or student employment. Changes in these data reflect the steady decline in state funding for operating expenditures, which have decreased from 47 percent in FY 2000 to 39 percent in FY 2004. During the same time frame, tuition and fees have risen from 31 to 41 percent of the total operating expenditures.
Tarleton remains committed to offering a quality education that is affordable. As state funding continues to decrease, the university is determined to meet the challenge of providing students with the financial resources needed for an education. The initiation of two new associate degree programs presents the opportunity for participation in the Perkins student loan program.
Graduation and Retention Rates
Past enrollment growth is beginning to translate into increased degree production, which is anticipated to continue. From FY 2000 to FY 2004, the number of degrees awarded increased 9.6 percent. The 50.9 percent six-year graduation rate for baccalaureate students who graduate at the same or another institution shows a 10.2 percent gain when comparing the 1993 and 1997 cohorts. Concerning graduates in key fields, the computer science and engineering degree programs are less than five years old, so graduates are not reflected in these data. Additionally, doctoral graduates are not recorded, as Tarleton’s doctoral program in educational leadership is less than two years old. One-year undergraduate retention rates have remained constant in the 80 percent range when considering retention of students who either remained at Tarleton or transferred to another higher education institution.
The four-, five- and six-year graduation rates are consistently moving in a positive direction. Efforts to increase retention and graduation rates are reflected by efforts such as exploring the possibility of implementing a university student advisement center. While the number of graduates in computer science and engineering is reflective of the newness of the programs, it should be noted the university has a long-established and nationally recognized program in computer information systems, which awarded 680 degrees from FY 2000 to FY 2004. Concerning efforts to increase the number of nursing majors, the university has noted a 161 percent increase in the number of majors from fall 2000 to fall 2004. As these students progress through the program, an increase in the number of graduates will be noted. New off-campus nursing course offerings in Killeen and Brownwood provide additional access.
Success of Developmental Education Students
The data from fall 2000 to fall 2004 indicate that the number of first-time undergraduate students receiving developmental education increased from 368 to 584 (58.7 percent). It is alarming to know that an increasing number of students entering higher education need developmental education and courses. However, Tarleton is equipped to meet these needs. As a result, one- and two-year retention rates have remained relatively constant.
The increases in students receiving developmental education (58.7 percent) surpass the enrollment increases (19.7 percent). Thus, the university is striving to ensure that students have the necessary academic background for success. A major mission of Tarleton’s Division of General Studies is to support students enrolled in developmental courses. One focus of the proposed student academic advising center would be to support developmental students.
Diversity in student enrollment has increased from fall 2000 to fall 2004. Efforts are being made to recruit and retain a student population that is more reflective of the changing demographics of the State of Texas. Tarleton-CT is a major factor in the diversity of the student body.
A number of recruiting initiatives targeting minority students, such as Upward Bound and summer bridge programs, are under way. The increased numbers of students attending from metropolitan counties afford the potential for gains in minority student enrollments. As the demographics of Texas change, so must efforts to attract representative students.
Academic Excellence Efforts
Tarleton is striving to improve the university’s academic environment. In 2005, the Clinical Laboratory Science program received a rare 10-year accreditation renewal by the National Accrediting Agency for Clinical Laboratory Science. Additionally, the test scores of graduates from the program rank in the top 10 percent nationally. Graduates from teacher certification and nursing programs posted commendable passing rates of 97.5 percent and 96.9 percent, respectively. Efforts to increase Tarleton’s endowment have resulted in the creation of the first two endowed professorships.
A continual review of academic standards and outcomes assessment data at the college and department level will be used to improve and strengthen the academic integrity and rigor of degree programs. Admission requirements are undergoing a similar review and strengthening, as well as the expectations of faculty in the areas of scholarship and creative activity. The university is further seeking to promote academic excellence by exploring the selective development of new baccalaureate, masters and doctoral degree programs.
From FY 2001 to FY 2003, Tarleton posted a 26.7 percent gain in total research expenditures. Federal expenditures increased by 35.5 percent, while institutional research expenditures rose by 66.7 percent. In FY 2004, Tarleton’s total research expenditures were $8.6 million, which was a 4.9 percent increase from FY 2003. Tarleton’s accomplishments in the research arena are documented by various sources such as the notations appearing in the Farm Security and Rural Investment Act of 2002, which includes a citation applauding the performance of the Center for Agribusiness Excellence, one of Tarleton’s major research efforts.
From 2002 to 2004, the Center for Agribusiness Excellence, contracting with the Risk Management Agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, saved approximately $241 million in suspect crop insurance claims. The university continues to explore and examine new opportunities for expanding research activities.
The combined market value of university and Tarleton Foundation endowments reached $29,483,652 as of January 1, 2005, which is a 47 percent increase from FY 2001. For most of the past 10 years, contributions have shown gains; however, market fluctuations for the 2003-2004 year reflected a slight decrease. Private donations to the university and Tarleton Foundation continue to increase. These private donations are a high priority and the Foundation is realizing consistent growth. In the past year, the Foundation exceeded the $2 million goal by more than 30 percent. The Greater Tarleton Annual Fund exceeded the annual goal of $65,000. The Greater Tarleton Annual Fund Campus Campaign was introduced last year with a record 32 percent of faculty and staff contributing. This year’s goal of 40 percent has been reached, with more than 55 percent of Tarleton’s faculty and staff contributing to the effort.
Building permanent endowments will remain the top priority. Tarleton will continue to aggressively seek private gifts through cash, annuities and in-kind contributions that can be turned into cash. Next year, the goal of the Greater Tarleton Annual Fund will be increased to $70,000.
Tarleton’s overall financial position is strong. From fall 2000 to fall 2004, a steady 5 percent yearly growth in student headcount and semester credit hours has provided the annual budget with a steady revenue stream. In a changing economic environment where the proportion of the budget funded by general revenue/state sources has decreased, the university has sought external funding and increased student fees to provide some relief. From FY 2001 to FY 2004, the percent of the budget represented by external funding increased from 17 percent to 20 percent. For the past four years, Tarleton’s reserve fund balances have remained steady. Increases in deferred maintenance from fall 2000 ($1.2 million) to fall 2004 ($3.8 million) reflect an aging infrastructure. Tarleton is addressing deferred maintenance as noted by a decrease in the amount of deferred maintenance of $450,000 from fall 2002 to fall 2004.
Decreases in the percentage of the overall budget funded by the state will necessitate a continued exploration of internal and external funding sources. Tarleton remains committed to providing an affordable education. As the infrastructure of Tarleton continues to age, the university will need state funding assistance to fully address anticipated future increases in deferred maintenance expenses.
As reported by the THECB for fall 2004, Tarleton ranks eighth among the 34 state institutions in terms of classroom utilization and fifth in lab usage. THECB space projections show the university has a deficit of 33,949 square feet. For majors such as nursing, which are experiencing rapidly increasing enrollments, the need for additional classroom space is critical for the existence of the current program as well as for future growth. From FY 2000 to FY 2004, Historically Underutilized Business expenditures increased by 258.1 percent.
Tarleton’s program in nursing has grown to more than 400 majors. During the 79th legislative session, tuition revenue bonds (TRBs) were requested for the construction of a nursing facility, which would meet current and anticipated future needs. Additional TRBs were sought for a new central heating and cooling utility loop to replace a 90-year-old system that has gone beyond its useful life. The continued growth of the Stephenville campus necessitates the acquisition of property to provide space for the future. The A&M System requested TRBs for the construction of permanent facilities for Texas A&M University-Central Texas (currently Tarleton-Central Texas). It is hoped these TRB requests will be given consideration during the special legislative session.
Other Institutional Priorities
- Increase the total amount of federal research expenditures
- Develop a new student academic advisement center
- Promote service education and undergraduate student research
- Increase the number of majors and graduates in the College of Science and Technology and the College of Liberal and Fine Arts
- Increase faculty and staff salaries