By: Liza Rodriguez
Since October of 2008 Dr. Steven Tallant has been president of A&M University –Kingsville. Tallant came to the University with a vision to move the school forward, to make enrollment rates go higher, and to focus on educational quality. He has made his goals come true in a number of crucial areas.
“To make it simple, my job is like an overseer,” Tallant said. “I am the head of five divisions that run the university. The vice presidents of the Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, Finance and Administration, Institutional Enhancement, and Enrollment Management departments all report to me about the statuses of their departments and respective jobs.” He is also in charge of the enrollment of students. “It is up to me to recruit students for the school,” Tallant said. So far he has been very successful. According to the Kingsville Record, Tallant has increased enrollment from 5,698 to 6,609 students from his start in the fall of 2008 to the fall of 2010. He is also in charge of overseeing the school’s $140 million budget.
Due to the major budget cut that the Texas Education System recently passed, A&M- Kingsville is having to rethink their expenses. “The University is looking at an estimated loss of $13 million over the next two years,” Tallant said. With 11,000 jobs on the line, Tallant has had to make certain cut backs. After offering an early retirement to several employees last year, he kept certain positions unfilled, eliminated unnecessary jobs, and combined departments. With uncanny talent, Tallant made sure that hardly any jobs would be lost and reached that goal successfully after only having to lay off three University employees.
Recently the A&M University System installed John Sharp as new Chancellor of the Universities. His credentials suggest an individual that would be able to manage with the budget cuts in Texas. Tallant, who has recently met with the new Chancellor, couldn’t be happier, “I am very pleased with the selection, Sharp understands the Texas budget and the process of politics it takes to get what is needed.” Tallant said. He also explained that because Sharp is from South Texas, he knows exactly what a school like A&M- Kingsville needs.
Before coming to Kingsville, Tallant, who is Texas- born, was the Dean of Graduate Programs at University of Wisconsin Eau- Claire and in charge of the undergraduate and graduate academic affairs. He had also directed four dean programs and served as vice-chancellor. Before that he had served twenty years in the military. Since he started at A&M, Tallant has worked at beautifying the school grounds and adding two more residential areas to the campus. He also managed to increase funding for research and graduate programs.
“My goal for this upcoming year is to ensure a better mentoring program for incoming students.” Tallant said. “I am in charge of 7,000 students and we are looking to get them better mentoring and more resources, we currently have 14 programs to offer to students” He has also established the Honors College to provide a more challenging academic learning for higher ranked students. The program currently has 150 students enrolled. Tallant maintains himself very accessible to the students and can be seen cheering on the Javalinas at football teams. Him and his wife, Karen, have made Kingsville their home by participating in community offices and events. About Kingsville and A&M, Tallant says he and his wife “Plan to stay here many years.”