Friday, August 21, 2009

2009-10 Faculty/Staff Opening Luncheon

Let the record show that Chancellor Victor J. Boschini, Jr. was joking.

In a breezy, humor-filled pep talk to the university’s faculty and staff this afternoon, Boschini playfully attempted to extinguish any potential grumbling about inconveniences associated with welcoming the largest incoming freshmen class in TCU history, estimated at 1,866. (Now, it appears the number is closer to 1,822. Official numbers will be available on the 12th day of class.)

“I don’t want to hear any complaints. Be nice to these kids,” joked Boschini, who frequently went off script and showed much of his personality. “If you like having a job, a good job, if you like health care, raises, then make sure those ... kids feel like they’re appreciated and welcome.”

The crowd roared with laughter.

As TCU officially began its 137th academic year with the annual Faculty/Staff Opening Luncheon, held in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, the chancellor addressed the blessings and challenges TCU will see in 2009-10, especially in light of the troubled economy.

With an estimated 8,696 students enrolled for Fall 2009, TCU has its largest student body in history, with residence halls at approximately 109 percent of capacity.

The endowment has eclipsed the $1 billion mark again, the chancellor said, showing a steadiness that is far outpacing what most institutions are experiencing.

Meanwhile, the Campaign for TCU now totals more than $205 million and continues to support scholarships, academic programs and faculty research.

The university has seen the completion or near-completion of three updated facilities: The Mabee Foundation Education Complex, which opened last year; Scharbauer Hall, which will be home of the John V. Roach Honors College, when it opens in January 2010; and dormitory Sherley Hall, which opened this week to freshmen men and women.

“I heard one dad comment that it’s nicer than the Hyatt. It’s also more expensive,” Boschini joked.

The Board of Trustees, in April, did set tuition at $28,250 for the academic year, but Boschini was quick to add that the university has also administered its greatest-ever portion of financial aid – $150 million in scholarships, grants and loans. Much of it comes directly from the university, which increased institutionally funded financial aid to $73 million this year, in part to help students affected by the economic downturn. The university also set aside $350,000 to help students who have been most affected by the economy.

The chancellor also noted that TCU had welcomed some 150,000 visitors to campus during the summer, from a record 392 freshmen at Frog Camps to orientation sessions to various workshops and institutes. Then he stepped aside as other summer highlights were shown on a video slideshow, comically narrated by Frog Club President John Denton ’85.

The crowd also heard briefly from Faculty Senate Chair Art Busby, associate professor of geology, who announced that the panel would organize a first-ever All-Faculty Picnic in late March to promote community across disciplines. The group will also continue its focus on peer-to-peer exchanges, tenure issues and the economic downturn.

The Rev. Angela Kaufman ’95, chair of the Staff Assembly, said she and staff representatives would take their monthly meetings “on the road” to various locations on campus to encourage greater participation and community.

Student Government Association President Kelsie Johnson encouraged faculty and staff to join students in living up to the university reputation of family friendliness.

“As the campus changes and the faces around it change, one thing remains: the spirit of the Horned Frog family, even if we’re having an Octo-mom experience,” Johnson quipped.

At the end of the hour, Boschini announced Susan B. Adams, associate vice chancellor for Student Affairs and dean of Campus Life, as the recipient of the Chancellor’s Staff Award for Outstanding Service.

“Kelsie [Johnson] was right: None of us could do all of the jobs around the campus alone, but collectively, we can make TCU an exceptional place,” Adams said.

Other finalists included: Mary Kincannon, associate registrar; Ross Bailey, associate athletics director for facilities; Stan Hagadone, associate director of admission for Brite Divinity School; Cheryl Wilson, controller for Finance and Administration; Henri Etta Kilgore, budget manager for Marketing and Communication; and Sondra Harris, executive assistant in the Alumni Office.

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