SAN MARCOS, TEXAS — Southwest Texas State University plans to redesignate its academic schools as colleges, university President Jerome Supple announced Tuesday.
Supple made the announcement while delivering his annual state of the university address, which traditionally kicks off the academic year at SWT.
Pending approval of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the School of Applied Arts and Technology will become the College of Applied Arts, the School of Business will become the College of Business Administration, the School of Education will become the College of Education, the School of Fine Arts and Communication will become the College of Fine Arts and Communication, the School of Health Professions will become the College of Health Professions, the School of Liberal Arts will become the College of Liberal Arts, the School of Science will become the College of Science, the College of General Studies will become the University College and the Graduate School will become the Graduate College.
“These name changes are more than cosmetic,” Supple said. “They announce and implement a higher profile for programs with national reputations, and they mean an enhanced leadership role for chairs, deans and the vice president for academic affairs.”
The move will allow SWT to designate some schools within colleges.
“A department that meets certain criteria of size, complexity, reputation, tradition and potential may be named a school,” he said.
In conjunction with the new academic alignment, the Department of Technology was moved from the School of Applied Arts and Technology to the School of Science. The change reflects the many partnerships the Technology Department has established with the departments of Physics and Chemistry in the College of Science. Those partnerships are directed primarily at improving educational opportunities in the high-tech industrial sector.
Supple said the university would submit a degree program in manufacturing engineering for approval by the Board of Regents this fall. He called the program “a natural outgrowth” of the university’s existing engineering technology program.
“The manufacturing engineering program will address an important need of the high-tech industry in this region,” he said.
Last April, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board authorized SWT to begin planning for two additional doctoral programs: in education and health professions. Supple said that, beginning ths fall, he will place a special emphasis on identifying two or three other doctoral programs that would be appropriate for SWT.
“This does not mean that Southwest Texas is becoming a research university. Our commitment to undergraduate and teaching excellence is firmly established and will continue. But our goals must be broader,” he said.
SWT currently offers two doctoral programs: in geographic education and environmental geography.
Supple said the university will continue its efforts toward improved student retention. He noted that the retention rate of freshmen from 1997 to 1998 was 70 percent, up five percentage points from the previous year and placing SWT sixth among public universities in Texas.
“However, we want to increase our annual retention goals until we top 80 percent, which would put us in third place, ” he said.
SWT will continue to focus on its four strategic goals, Supple said. Those goals are improved quality and prestige for the university, better student retention, promoting ethnic, cultural and gender diversity and increasing SWT’s leadership and presence in the surrounding metropolitan area.