Today marks President Teniente-Matson’s second anniversary as president of Texas A&M University-San Antonio, a milemarker she shared with faculty and staff at convocation.
Sharing both personal stories and her institutional vision throughout the morning, Matson thanked faculty and staff for their contributions, and tasked everyone with building a “culture of excellence on campus” during her Spring 2017 convocation remarks.
At the start of each semester, university leadership hosts a convocation to bring faculty together, provide institutional updates and set the pace for the upcoming semester. As part of university tradition, Matson and Provost Mike O’Brien presented more than 40 faculty and staff awards, praising them for five, 10 and 15 years of service to the university.
Texas A&M-San Antonio serves the South Side of San Antonio, an underrepresented community that became a comprehensive 4-year university just months ago during Fall term 2016.
During convocation, Matson covered a wide range of topics, including the role of a public university, student success, inclusivity and how A&M-San Antonio will respond to a changing political dynamic across the nation.
Throughout, she celebrated the rapid growth of the campus which celebrates a student population that is majority-minority. Noting collaborative efforts and teamwork, she shared three points of her institutional plan with colleagues: developing an institutional niche, building a culture of excellence and a roadmap for the future of the campus.
Growing a university identity
What is the university’s identity? What is it known for? Even as the university grows at a “jaguar pace,” as a young university, leaders will have to continually shape the university’s identity.
As part of growing a stronger brand and identity, Matson said she met with Chancellor John Sharp of the Texas A&M System, who will approve a consulting company to provide a comprehensive marketing approach.
“Today, our university is a living demonstration of an institutional niche. We are tangibly contributing to building vibrant and sustainable economies,” Matson said. “More important, we have a public duty to prepare students to excel students to their potential. We are striving to meet the niche needs of the demographic and academic areas we serve as we make critical decisions about our future.”
The importance of a Roadmap
To grow a strong identity, Matson said, we need a roadmap for the future.
That means that as faculty settle into a “culture as a four-year university,” they also need to continue to pave the road ahead. During her address, she cautioned that decisions shouldn’t be made without a plan. Matson said data collection data will be instrumental to “analyze results and decisions.”
Culture of Excellence
Matson explained that as the university evolves, so does the institutional culture. She spoke of building a “culture of excellence,” which included focusing on areas that require refinement, and building on what is already working. She mentioned refining the approach to serving first-year students, including block scheduling and establishing automated wait lists.
Matson recognized committees for the comprehensive amount of campus data they’ve contributed. She said committees are closer to being part of the norm on campus.
The Masterplan Committee is in the final steps of formatting their development plan, which will be released in upcoming weeks.
“With evolution comes institutionalization,” Matson said. She explained that committees will continue to collect data, which will be used to allocate resources and implement decisions.
Matson is scheduled to meet with the Board of Regents to discuss her institutional plan in February.
Emphasis on Inclusivity
Matson also addressed the idea of inclusivity and shifting political dynamics in higher education following the U.S. Presidential election. Matson said she visited with students following the November election “to remind them the institution is committed to their support and their success.”
Matson said she and her colleagues will take proactive steps to connect with students to make sure they are aware of campus resources available and remind them that marginalized groups are supported.
“It is important that we are thoughtful about outwardly visible signs of inclusion,” Matson said.