As campus expansion and enrollment achievements displayed on a screen during convocation, Dr. Cynthia Teniente-Matson, now former president of the university, told employees that internal communication and compensation would remain priorities for campus administration.
Before a mostly packed auditorium Jan. 12 at Texas A&M University-San Antonio, Matson said $200,000 was allocated to increase the living wage of staff. She said an additional $400,000 will increase faculty and staff salary to bring this university to a more competitive state on the job market, though no specific salary changes were mentioned. This is in addition to unspecified merit increases in compensation that are planned for March.
The office of Chief Executive Officer Kathryn Funk-Baxter did not respond by deadline for comment on compensation.
Internal communication was also on the list of improvements to be made by Matson but received little-to-no elaboration during convocation. Per the slide shown, there will be three measures to improve it:
- The creation of a Campus Communicators Council, led by Marketing and Communications.
- A new campus-wide events calendar hosted on the university’s website.
- A one-stop space for an internal newsletter on the university’s website.
The website implementations are still in development, per the president’s presentation.
In a Jan. 13 email to The Mesquite, Brance Arnold, senior communications manager, wrote the council plans to meet in late January and will continue to meet monthly to “coordinate, streamline, and improve communications across the university.”
Eve White, executive director of marketing and communications, will oversee the council.
On the state of compensation, the university appointed a committee to research salaries for faculty and staff in the fall, which concluded in forums in November and December to get feedback from employees.
When she began as president in 2015, Matson said 39 faculty and 44 staff positions were added to the university as the institution began taking in lower division students.
In contrast, an open records request submitted by The Mesquite in December found that, between Jan. 1 and Aug. 31, 2022, 17 faculty and 80 staff left their jobs at A&M-San Antonio.
The university reached enrollment of about 7,300 students in the fall, a record figure, Matson said. She said a 10% increase goal is set for the fall. This comes after a second housing building was approved by the Board of Regents in November after an overwhelmed Esperanza Hall forced the university to house students in neighboring hotels.
Matson mentioned no plan to account for housing while the second building is constructed. Construction is expected to begin in early spring.
Matson, who announced her departure in November to begin a presidential position at San Jose State University in San Jose, California, bid her farewell, followed by a standing ovation from the audience.
“It has truly been my supreme pleasure” to have served Texas A&M-San Antonio, an emotional Matson told the audience Jan. 12.
Dr. Linda Schott, who served as president of Southern Oregon University from 2016-21, is serving as interim president until a new president is found with the help of a Presidential Search Committee appointed in December by the university.
“I can tell you with confidence, she will capably lead the university during this transition,” Matson said.
Moving on to San Jose was an opportunity that presented itself in a way she felt she could make an impact, Matson said in an interview Dec. 16.
“The same way I have been able to have impact here at A&M-San Antonio and in our great city,” Matson said.
With San Jose State University located in Silicon Valley, Matson expressed her excitement to be on a large campus, pointing out competitive sports, opportunities for research through the area’s technology-based development, as well as a “broad array” of music, dance, theater, arts — “areas that are not yet fully immerged here,” she added.
At convocation, Matson said every year has been an “intersection,” occasionally an inflection point, at A&M-San Antonio since she began her post as president. Whether it was installing portable buildings west of the Classroom Hall or constructing a new residence building, there will always be something new at A&M-San Antonio.
With the campus reaching its 15th anniversary in 2024, Matson said “vast” growth has been achieved, referring to Sen. Frank Madla’s dream to create a higher education hub on the Southside of San Antonio.
Matson said Chancellor John Sharp told her Madla would find his expectations surpassed.
This is a sentiment Matson extends to her successor. Madla’s vision “should never be lost,” she told The Mesquite. “His vision was about creating access and opportunity, and he knew it would change lives and generations, and that is what’s happening at A&M-San Antonio.”
Editor’s note: This article was updated at 2:35 p.m. on Jan. 17, 2023, to correct the timeframe of faculty and staff hired by the university. Matson referred to the number of employees brought in by the university during her first semester as president in 2015, not 2022.