1995 will be recalled as a year of profound and lasting change for Texas A&M International University and higher education in Texas overall, said TAMIU President Dr. Leo Sayavedra.
"I know of no other University in the nation that has undertaken such a massive and ambitious program. Within the past year we have opened a new campus, completed an academic reorganization, expanded our faculty, endured a challenge to our system affiliation, welcomed our first freshman and sophomore classes, completed an exhaustive self-study resulting in a reaffirmation of accreditation, received over $3 million in gifts to help secure needs not addressed by State funding and initiated a series of new traditions that help to define a University experience," Dr. Sayavedra said.
"Most universities would be happy to have accomplished one or two of the tasks that this University has completed in one calendar year. Because of the sacrifices made by many, this University, the first new University campus in Texas in 25 years, will change the very social fabric of this border community and beyond. I believe, as do most, that TAMIU stands as the single most critical element in the advancement of education in South Texas in decades," he added.
Phase One of the new campus is located on 300 acres in northeast Laredo donated by the Killam Family. The $42 million Phase One includes four buildings. Phase One was constructed in a record 27 months. Phase Two, tagged at $23.6 million, includes four additional buildings and is scheduled for completion late next fall. Student housing is planned for completion by Fall 1996. The University also maintains a downtown campus at its facilities on the West End of Washington Street.
The University has been reorganized into a more traditional collegiate structure that better suits its expanded role and mission.
Four Colleges encompass the University's over 22 undergraduate and 20 graduate programs.
They include the College of Arts and Humanities, College of Business Administration, College of Education and the new College of Science and Technology. In addition, the University has greatly expanded its Student Affairs service areas to include Student Health Services and other areas critical to student success including Career Planning and Development and Enrollment Management and Special Population Services.
Helping the University to accomplish its new expansion is the addition of 65 new faculty members drawn from around the world. Combined with the current faculty, 93% of TAMIU full-time faculty members have a doctoral degree. The total faculty now numbers 132.
The expanded faculty is delivering a degree inventory that has expanded 44 percent since joining The Texas A&M University System. The University has most recently added nine new master's level and three new bachelor's degrees.
Earlier this year, Senate Bill 11(D-Zaffirini) sought to switch the University's System affiliation. The measure died in a House committee.
Governor Bush, Lt. Gov. Bullock and House Speaker Laney later issued a joint statement affirming that any changes in higher education must be cleared through the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
This year, the University became a four-year institution, welcoming its first freshmen and sophomore classes Sept. 4. Enrollment for the first semester at TAMIU was 2,511 -- a 28% increase in headcount and a 47% increase in semester credit hours. The student body includes representatives from approximately 30 foreign countries and territories.
In its 100th annual meeting in Atlanta, The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) reaffirmed Texas A&M International University's full accreditation for the next 10 years.
In granting its reaffirmation, SACS members said they were impressed that the University was able to prepare for the rigorous review while simultaneously building and opening a new campus and expanding to four-year University status.
The examination and review process was completed internally and externally with a peer review panel that concluded that the University's facilities and faculty are of high quality and that TAMIU meets the highest standards set forth by SACS.
SACS is the recognized accrediting body in the 11 U.S. Southern states and in Latin America for those postsecondary institutions that award associate, bachelor's, master's and doctor's degrees.
While State support of the University has been generous, with Phases One and Two providing facilities representing an investment of over $60 million, additional needs that cannot be addressed by State funding sources have been identified.
Those needs include but are not limited to student scholarship monies, faculty development monies and the pressing need for a Student Center. The University is aggressively identifying and securing funding sources for these needs through its Office for Advancement and External Affairs.
This year alone, the Office has been able to secure gifts to the University exceeding $3 million.
As the new University expands its role and mission, it also seeks to establish new traditions that will come to be identified with the University and student life.
This year, the University launched a number of such new traditions including the unveiling of a costumed mascot, "Dusty the Dustdevil" underwritten by Mall del Norte; the presentation of the University's first Alma Mater, penned by TAMIU Associate Professor of Spanish Ray M. Keck III and the first scholarship benefitting "Dusty Fun Run" and "Dusty Golf Tournament."
Additional acitivities have included the Scholarship Donor Appreciation Reception and the Deans' Faculty Research Colloquium.
The new year also signals another major change at the University as President Sayavedra will leave the University to assume the position of Deputy Chancellor for Academic Institutions and Agencies for The Texas A&M University System effective Jan. 1, 1996. The promotion makes Sayavedra the highest ranking Hispanic in higher education in the State of Texas.
His departure after 24 years with the University is bittersweet, he said.
"It is an admittedly bittersweet time, I leave behind many good and lasting memories, a staff and faculty that has met every challenge and exceeded all expectations and a new University that is emerging from the South Texas brush country with an expanding role and mission that will make it a truly international force in higher education.
"But this new position is infused with a remarkable new challenge that I welcome. I will oversee the academic and student affairs activities of all A&M System universities and all University presidents, including the new president of TAMIU, will report to me. Obviously, I will retain a strong and keen interest in the growth and advancement of Texas A&M International University," he said.
"I urge our legislators and community leaders to continue to support the University and realize that through it and with it we will secure a brighter future, an empowered community and a new cadre of leaders that will take us into the next century and beyond," he said.
Interim President for the University will be Jose Garcia, the University's current Vice President for Finance and Adminstration.
20 December 1995