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Dear TAMIU community,
Another George Washington’s birthday has passed. In addition to he accustomed activities, this year saw a special event at the University, Sunday afternoon of February 20th. Together with elected officials from the City, County, State, and Federal governments, we hosted a send-off for Laredo and regional members of Bravo Company, Third Battalion, 141st Infantry, 36th Infantry Division. Approximately 70 young soldiers, accompanied and supported by their families---wives, children, parents, siblings, aunts and uncles---stood where our students stand for graduation, preparing themselves for departure to Afghanistan. The event was extremely moving. The sad reality of armed conflict today could hardly have been made more intense, nor these young men’s response more inspiring.
At present, the legislative session and appropriations for higher education remain our most immediate concern. The latest edition of The Quorum Report contains an article based upon a telephone interview with me last Friday. While budget reductions in some form seem inevitable, several proposals now being discussed could, if adopted, have very serious, negative consequences for TAMIU and for South Texas universities. We are fortunate that our Senator and Representatives remain committed to preserving the stellar gains for education in this region.
The following is a summary of some of what is happening in this office:
- On Friday, February 18th, we signed another Early Medial School Acceptance Program with the Health Science Center in San Antonio. This brings to 10 the number of slots reserved for our students in medical school.
- Plans continue for opening of the planetarium on April 16th. After seeing what is possible in that facility, I think most faculty members will eventually want to incorporate some planetarium experience in their courses.
- The Laredo Children’s Museum in the University are near to finalizing a plan for the museum to build a facility adjacent to the new Science Center. When complete, this
building will include space for faculty from our College of Education.
- On March 3rd-5th, the Chancellor’s Century Council meets in College Station. Patricia and I will attend. You may remember that this group held its meeting last year here in Laredo.
- On March 14th, in College Station, we present to the Board of Regents a programmatic review, to include a plan for how we might respond to the various possible budget reductions.
- Following Programmatic Review, a group will travel to Washington to visit congressional offices and to provide information to support current federal initiatives. We will be there March 15th-17th.
- Senator Zaffirini has filed a bill to create the Texas Academy of International Studies for placement at TAMIU, modeled on the Texas Academy of Math and Science located at North Texas. At the same time, the College of Education is looking at a plan for a university high school for Laredo. Can these plans/visions become one?
- The 100% review of the Kinesiology build-out is scheduled for College Station March 22nd-23rd. Construction on that facility should begin in August.
- Reorganization in the name of improving and expanding our technology facilities continues, with the merger of the offices of CTS and ETO to create the Office of Information Technology. Following the recommendation the evaluation last summer, we are in the process of creating a Technology Advisory Committee with campus-wide representation.
- The King Collection, a significant inventory of books on Spanish literature, promised several years ago by Professors Edmund L. and Willard F. King of Princeton, New Jersey, has now come to the University. Mr. Webb and his staff are now in the process of unpacking and cataloging that collection.
- There is much discussion now of a proposal in the Texas House to cut Institutional Enhancement by 50% for regional universities. Approximately 50% of our faculty salaries are paid by Institutional Enhancement, a part of the funding that created the University more than a decade ago. Such a move for us would be catastrophic. Our legislative team is well aware of this matter; they are hopeful that a compromise can be reached.
Should you read of this issue in the news, please know that many are working very hard to address the problem. Since I began this e-mail to you, both Pro-8 News and the San Antonio Express have called to ask about the question of Institutional Enhancement, since it is an essential part of funding for all South Texas universities.
Thank you for the continuing and tireless effort all of you bring to your work. To us is entrusted the responsibility for University life in Laredo. I know you agree that this is a glorious privilege.
Ray M. Keck, III
Professor of Spanish
Texas A&M International University
5201 University Boulevard
Laredo, Texas 78041