Texas A&M University-Kingsville, which has grown structurally and in enrollment the past five years, will continue to evolve as a purposed 50-year plan is implemented.
The plan predicts that more than 60 percent of 25-35 year-olds in the area will obtain some form of college degree or credential. For A&M-Kingsville, that means continued growth.
Keeping the momentum going is the goal of Dr. Steven Tallant, president of TAMUK. The university has seen student enrollment grow from 5,600 to 9,200 students over the last eight years. Within the next couple of decades, university officials predict the student population will balloon to more than 25,000 students.
Dr. Terisa Riley, senior vice president for student affairs, estimates the university could begin to progress toward those numbers within 3 to 4 years.
“The new music and general classroom buildings should be completed within the next 3 years. We are also working on new parking and intramural sports and athletics facilities,” Riley said. Plans for a new administration/office building have also been discussed to replace Seale Hall, where University Campus Police is currently located.
While the ambition of the 50-year plan is exciting, one of the main worries current students and future Javelinas will bear is whether or not the big plans will impact them financially. Riley addressed this issue, stating that it is a priority of hers to not only raise the necessary assets required for such plans, but also to not impede on the already daunting financial burden that most students have to deal with. She noted, “…the biggest barrier is financial. We have $60 million for the new music and classroom buildings; however, we asked for $93 million and did not receive our full request. We will have to use other university funds which are appropriated by the State of Texas or student tuition and fee funds. We are balancing that with our attempts not to raise student tuition very much each year so that the university remains affordable for our students.”
Instead of simply raising the cost of tuition, Riley suggests the university could attain greater assets from the state of Texas by signing more upperclassman to graduate courses, since more is paid for those classes than for freshman and sophomore courses. “They also pay more for disciplines that cost more to teach,” Riley adds, giving the example of a student studying engineering, as opposed to an undergraduate student studying English, since “the expectation is that it costs more to educate a student studying engineering.”
A major focal point of a video package featured on KIII TV last week was the diversity of culture TAMUK presents. The news clip featured the Dhol Tasha drummers play in unison around the University Building square as many admiring students looked on. While robust effort will be made to further enhance enrollment management, Riley said it will always remain a committed responsibility of the university to make sure every student who selects TAMUK feels that they have made the right choice to attend. “We are working with recruiters to ensure that we have a diverse student body—and by diverse I mean race, gender, ethnicity, areas of interest, and majors. We also have concerns about retaining more students of color whose retention rates fall behind others.”
In terms of location and finding space to build new facilities, Riley said the university is at an advantage. “Obviously, a huge increase in students would mean almost doubling our faculty and staff which means almost doubling our current facilities. Luckily, we are not landlocked, and we have available land space in which to build new classrooms, labs, residence halls, [and] student gathering spaces…” Much of the unused space that would be utilized would be several locations throughout the main campus, as well as undeveloped land north and west of the campus. Riley said negotiations would be made with the city of Kingsville to attain private developers, so that housing and dinning for students, faculty, and staff around campus could be provided. “Of course, none of this population explosion happens overnight, so we are working to gradually increase in each area so that none of our resources are so taxed that we are incapable of providing for our current students,” says Riley.
Among all the new changes to be implemented, Riley said, “Honestly, I am excited about the whole thing. I love the idea of providing all of the physical resources for teaching, research, and socialization that our community deserves.”
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