WT 125



“West Texas A&M University has been committed to understanding the aspirations of the young people of this region for more than a century. Their hopes and dreams have always been an important part of our role as a regional university, and we will continue to meet those needs through academic purpose and service for the next 100 years. WT 125 is essentially a plan to do just that—create a future for West Texas A&MUniversity that is responsive to the needs of the students, faculty and staff, the Panhandle and the world.”

—Walter V. Wendler



TABLE OF CONTENTS Who we are......................................................................................... 6 Where we are going.................................................................... 14 Where we are. .................................................................................. 28 The plan......................................................................................... 34 What it means.......................................................................... 44 Maxims..................................................................................46-104 Parting thoughts........................................................................ 108 Citations..........................................................................................114 Partners. ...................................................................................... 115



Dear Reader,

The document before you represents the culmination of tireless work by hundreds of individuals. It is impossible to gauge the intellectual and emotional energy invested in WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World . Those of us involved in the process firmly believe it will transform West Texas A&M University into a more effective institution in service to our region, The Texas A&M University System, the state, nation and world. This document represents an ambitious endeavor. We are not afraid of it, but run toward it. Our history is invaluable. West Texas A&M University has educated the Texas Panhandle since 1910. Over 70 percent of the teachers and administrators in public schools in the Panhandle have at least one degree from WT. We are proud of this foundation, and we intend to build a powerful future through excellence in our classrooms, laboratories, studios and other teaching venues through an intensified research agenda that is defined by the challenges and opportunities of the Panhandle. Our commitment to Panhandle rural communities as well as the urban areas of Canyon and Amarillo is the nucleus of our future. What we find and respond to here will also have application to similar geographic regions of the state, nation and world.

I would like to express my appreciation to the many individuals who contributed to this project. White papers, theme group reports and other contributions to this energetic process are available at wtamu.edu/wt125.


WT has been the source of higher

education in the Texas Panhandle for more than

100 years. Our long-standing commitment has always been to serve both the students and the region of the Panhandle.

WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World was developed using processes and procedures similar to those used with plans I helped develop at Texas A&M University, The Texas A&M University System, and, lastly, as chancellor at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. History shows each of these efforts had a positive impact. Accumulated experience is the best teacher, and this plan is the best of the lot.

It has been inspiring to watch the process unfold. We hope you find excitement in reading about WT’s future.


Walter V. Wendler President


Who we are. The Context and Character of WT



Big Ideas


At WT, we believe that the many rights granted to citizens carry considerable responsibilities.


Opportunities exist for individuals to exhibit abilities and accomplishments above the norm for which they are recognized and acknowledged. Internships and apprenticeships create appreciation for organizational hierarchies and the demands of performance.


Community colleges represent a low-cost, high efficiency means for students to test “college waters” with little or no debt. Students who would need to borrow money to attend WT are encouraged to attend a community college before transferring to WT.



WT is tied to the Texas Panhandle. Being responsive to the geography, values, beliefs and passions of the people of the Panhandle is what makes the University distinctive.


Our focus will be on community life, schools in rural settings, enriched enterprise, beef, rural healthcare, and water and energy. These points of focus will lead to the development of a first-of-its-kind Regional Research University.


Underpinning future leadership of this campus and the community will be done with an entrepreneurial spirit and a commitment to service, program excellence and operational efficiency.


Addressing regional challenges will attract positive attention from lawmakers, business and industry. Such action is empowering, not limiting. The demographics of our region include a growing number of Hispanics and African Americans. We are classified as a Hispanic Serving Institution. The majority of these students are first in their families to attend college. Serving them well serves our region.



The primary mission of West Texas A&M University is to serve the people of Texas.

Our mission is accomplished by offering intellectually challenging, critically reflective and regionally

responsive academic programs that provide students keen insight and vocational vitality.

WT’s first responsibility is to the people of the top 26 counties of Texas—the Texas Panhandle.

Focusing on the aspirations and needs of the citizens that the University serves creates value beyond

the borders of the Panhandle by first attending to rural community life.


Serving first locally is a commitment WT stands by when it comes

to the top 26 counties of Texas. The University is regionally responsive to the needs of the people of the Texas Panhandle through academic purpose and service.



The citizens of the Panhandle are pioneers. Our history is contoured by the perseverance and the tenacity of our citizenry and informed by the climate, the land and the serenity of the Panhandle. WT’s vision is to become a Regional Research University responsive to these unalterable forces that shape who we are. Our focus on the people and

places of the Panhandle will create a distinctiveness acknowledged throughout the Panhandle, across

the country and around the world. We will work diligently to share our work and its value.

The pioneer, wherever found, is self-reliant of necessity. There is no one else upon whom he can depend. Likewise, he is courageous because he is habitually meeting situations from which he cannot run away. He is tenacious and determined because it takes such qualities to wrest victory from the forces which everywhere oppose him. He is resourceful because he is compelled to invent most of the means and instruments that he uses in his daily work. He looks hardship squarely in the eye without flinching and refuses to be discouraged in the face of difficulties. In short, the pioneer develops those fine qualities of life that make him stand out as a useful and constructive citizen. 1


Our Values

WT’s values are inspired by the people of the plains, the towns, ranches, farms and communities that prioritize

commitment to family, faith, hard work and community—locally, regionally and universally. These values also are

shaped by the historic forces of American higher education.

Regardless of background, family history, personal beliefs or aspirations, everyone who meets its standards of

performance will realize the benefits WT has to offer.

WT’s values are reflective of, and responsive to, the people we serve. Performance, service and accomplishment guide

our values. Graduates of WT will value hard work and performance as measures of excellence.

WT will create in its students a commitment to being • self-reliant, • courageous, • resourceful, and • part of something larger than one’s self.


Where we are going. The Start of Strategic Planning



Origins of WT 125

West Texas A&M University aspires to be a Regionally Responsive Research University. As this plan was developed, over 300 people from campus, the Amarillo and Canyon communities, the extended Texas Panhandle and the state and nation came together to talk about the future of the University. In numerous small group meetings, a multitude of topics were deliberated. Out of those conversations came a view of the future for West Texas A&M University. This work will be realized at the 125th anniversary of service, which will be celebrated in the year 2035. Our University has been charged by The Texas A&M University System to attain doctoral status in the near future by developing doctoral degrees and graduating 20 doctoral candidates per year on a consistent basis. We take this charge seriously and are working to attain that status by first serving locally. This means, without equivocation, our advanced study programs will never neglect the importance of the fundamental understanding of the human condition as expressed in areas of study like literature, history, humanities and social sciences along with areas of study in life sciences, natural sciences and computational competence—all of

which are deemed to be the foundation of human existence.

Ultimately, the quality of this institution will be determined not by four-year graduation rates, six-year graduation rates, success in professional and vocational testing or any system of measurable inputs or outcomes. The best measure of WT’s success is taken at the regional level, where lives are changed and in turn impact other lives. The University’s reputation will grow in proportion to its impact on the lives of Panhandle residents. West Texas A&M University in the near and distant future will be wholly committed to serving students in attaining their life ambitions. The benchmarks are only a means to help us understand how we serve. We are aware, however, of the limitations of many measures held in high regard by others. Each student must be treated as an individual since differences in life experiences and preparation demand a more precise and personal measure. For example, imagine a 34-year-old working parent of two children who has decided to pursue a bachelor’s degree. If that person takes eight years to complete the degree, while maintaining a parenting role and full-time job, today’s policymakers judge this a failure. But in fact, this is a great success.


There are various ways to determine the quality of an institution, but the best gauge, by

far, is its impact on the lives and communities it serves.


The idea to first serve locally holds merit when it comes to building important connections. These connections foster relationships

that have significant impact on the institution as well as the region it serves.

Organizations serve all best when they first serve locally. This is true in any business enterprise, any educational institution and any religious organization—even in institutions that conduct business digitally. Quality is assessed through the lens of geography.

Toward this end, the architects of WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World have carefully and deliberatively used a process that collects the opinions of many individuals, along with their aspirations for an institution that they hold dear. A vast number of the people involved in this process are WT alumni. The impact and importance of that relationship is apparent in the care and concern that alumni demonstrate for the influence that the institution has had in changing the course of their lives. We hold such perspective in the highest regard. To do otherwise is to squander the very basis for an educational experience. The impact of an education is dramatic and life changing. When the skin is peeled off the rhetoric, the predispositions, the strategic plans and the portfolios of elected and appointed officials, the purpose of an education is wholly and simply this: to change the way an individual thinks.

The idea to first serve locally holds merit when it comes to building important connections. These connections foster important relationships that have significant impact on the institution as well as the region it serves. WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World is a long-range plan. For better or worse, government bureaucracies (and this includes universities) tend to derive direction from quarterly reports, annual reviews, and in the most thoughtful instances, five-year plans. This plan spans nearly two decades. It is a generational plan, one that encompasses roughly one generation. When organizations become large and complex, change and real progress occur at a glacial pace. Traditions, habits, customs, operating principles, shared governance and self-perception tends to develop over the life of an organization, not in a one- or two- or even five-year window.


Planning Principles

seeking. All actions suggested by planning should value and emphasize educational opportunity afforded students as the central purpose of WT. This is our focusing purpose, and it is academic in nature. 4. CORE PROGRAMS AND DISTINCTIVE COMPETENCIES At West Texas A&M University, various core programs define the University experience. There should be access to excellence in foundational educational programs, the core body of knowledge that allows a person to be an educated human being, a U.S. citizen and a member of society. Each academic program should provide distinctive, excellent core experiences for students. Additionally, each program should provide something to the greater university and to the state of Texas that is available nowhere else in the state. Strength in core programs and distinctive competencies will mark West Texas A&M University’s excellence. 5. DEEP INTERDEPENDENCE A s West Texas A&M University evolves into a Regional Research University , the variety and type of offerings must be tailored to the strengths of each program represented and its relationship to our faculty’s skills and interests and regional challenges, needs and opportunities. 6. QUALITY AS THE CORNERSTONE Defining and assessing quality is an immense challenge. Quality is not always easily characterized in words and numbers. Some aspects of quality in higher education defy any quantification; most require multiple indicators. For

The following 12 planning principles will be evidenced in all decision-making as the future of WT is realized.

1. PEOPLE FIRST West Texas A&M University is first composed of people. Every effort will be made to recruit, retain and reward students, faculty and staff who share this commitment. Students are WT’s purpose for existence. Recruiting and retaining the very best, by our measure, requires much more than test scores and class rank. We seek those who will lead. Excellent faculty are needed to work with excellent students. The high quality of WT’s faculty and the work environment the University nurtures are important to ongoing success. Graduate students, under the leadership of faculty in creative and scholarly work, are at once learners and leaders. Staff, who also support the academic enterprise, should be appreciated for the commitment to excellence that they bring. 2. SERVANT LEADERSHIP The foundation of all leadership decisions in the planning process will be the extent to which a decision allows WT to lead by serving. Decisions will be made by understanding the highest interests of WT in its many dimensions. Work will be directed to serving those interests through leadership at every level. 3. LEARNER-CENTERED UNIVERSITY West Texas A&M University must provide a nurturing yet rigorous educational environment for learners of all levels, both on- and off-campus, degree seeking and non-degree


example, student retention—a measure some value highly— should never be misinterpreted to mean our educational efforts are of high quality just because student retention is good. A quality education will result in improved retention, but the reverse is not always true. The way that students are nurtured, the number effectively placed for employment or graduate/professional study and performance on professional examinations for certification all indicate quality in other dimensions. These dimensions are themselves indicators of the University’s aspiration to make WT a place known for a pervasive commitment to student achievement. 7. SERVING OUR CORNER OF TEXAS Vibrant universities become so by serving well at the local level. Our mission at West Texas A&M University is to diligently address the needs of the people, communities, institutions and enterprises of the Texas Panhandle. The top 26 counties of Texas makeup our corner of the world. As part of The Texas A&M University System, the Morrill Act that established the land grant universities in America is in our DNA. The act was passed in response to the demand created by the Industrial Age for educated people to serve the agricultural and mechanical needs of a growing nation. When West Texas State Normal College was founded, our commitment was to educate teachers who would educate the citizens of this region of Texas. A teachers college coupled with a commitment to practically minded, land-grant inspired service is a powerful testament to who we were and what we will become. The challenge today is to capture and define the idea of a Regional Research University built on a foundation of service to the place we call home. WT will lead in extending and amplifying what it means to be service-oriented in the 21st century through actions consistent with the ideals of the Morrill Act. As members of The Texas A&M University System we share those ideals.  in order to promote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits and professions in life. 2

8. PARTICIPATORY DECISION MAKING Those affected by the plan and process should be directly involved in the decision-making that produces the plan. While it is impossible to include everyone, it is possible to include representatives of those affected. For example, students involved in course work throughout the University can be effectively represented in the planning process through the agency of dedicated faculty and staff. The key players in the planning process sought participation from their constituencies to the broadest extent possible. As the plan unfolded, this input guided the effort to serve all. 9. A FLEXIBLE ORGANIZATION West Texas A&M University should be known as an efficient organization. Many sources indicate that resources for administration are effectively distributed at WT when compared to other institutions. Increasing competition from private, for-profit universities and demands for efficiency from Austin and The Texas A&M University System mean we must become even more adept from an administrative standpoint. Necessary bureaucratic procedures should be transparent and easy to negotiate, not an obstacle to success. People, rather than organizations, should be responsible for making decisions. We will do all that we can to create channels of responsibility and to have decisions made by people at the lowest, most appropriate levels that add value. The best universities are responsive to change and are adaptable, agile and able to provide support and assistance for the knowledge work of the institution. 10. RISK-FRIENDLY ENVIRONMENTS The best universities of the 21st century will encourage informed risk-taking. Taking risks may produce failure, but from failure, comes discovery. The most profound ideas, the


It never hurts to push the proverbial envelope

just a bit—that’s a risk that everyone should take to push ideas, thoughts and dreams forward to encourage growth, success and opportunities. It’s something seen every day in the Texas Panhandle—an entrepreneurial spirit that offers unlimited possibilities, and that same spirit is encouraged at WT.

greatest inventions, the most compelling masterpieces grow from an environment that tolerates, even encourages, risk. People identify with the entrepreneurial spirit of Texas and especially of the Panhandle. This spirit—that pushes the edge of thought and action and sees possibilities and opportunities where others may not—needs to be present in the faculty, staff and students of West Texas A&M University and in its plan. Faculty, staff and students will be encouraged to be entrepreneurial in every aspect of University life and to be bold in seeking opportunities that benefit the life of the University, its citizens, and, ultimately, the citizens of the Panhandle, state and beyond. This entrepreneurial spirit will mark WT.

support the intellectual mission of the University by assuring that a broad and relevant set of experiences, perspectives, needs and talents are present in the academic community. The University will be reflective and responsive to the diverse needs of its community through its programs and services and by living up to its fundamental commitment to equity and dignity of all persons. 12. STUDENT-CENTERED FACILITIES The campuses and facilities of West Texas A&M University must provide welcoming environments that are aesthetically pleasing as well as appropriate to their purpose and efficiency. All should be proud of the physical facilities and resources of West Texas A&M University.

11. REFLECTIVE AND RESPONSIVE The diversity of the student body, faculty and staff directly




These ideas will carry West Texas A&M University into the forefront of WT’s aspirational peers while WT serves its students and the region.


Serve the Panhandle and Its Heart – The I-27 Corridor and Route 66



The University’s relationship to its community is critical. Schools, industries, businesses and cultural activities all play a pivotal role in building a quality place to live and study. This is a mutually reinforcing phenomenon.


Embrace Our Community College Partnerships



The University must cultivate a modern version of itself and understand historical imperatives that affect its role in serving students in partnership with community colleges as a means to cost effectiveness and impact on various communities.


Build Undergraduate Academic Excellence



The quality of the student body, the quality of teaching and advising available to students and the quality of the faculty who work with undergraduates all contribute to the undergraduate academic experience. The strength of a Regional Research University is defined, in part, by the quality of the core humanities, arts and sciences programs offered. While our programs are sound, improvement and strength of identity are needed. Essential to success is recruiting high-achieving students. We need to engage the very best freshman scholars.


Focus Graduate Academics on Regional Opportunities



Exceptional faculty attract exceptional graduate students. The best universities have the most accomplished graduate students and research programs. It is that simple. Our move to doctoral status is driven and sustained by carefully conceived graduate programs. These programs must be responsive to the needs of the Texas Panhandle and similar geographic regions.



Learn and Live: Residential Education Experience



Identification with and capabilities for providing a complete experience that includes leadership development and life skills should never fall below any other priority of the institution.


Efficiently Utilize Resources



The quality to which we aspire will be achieved with appropriate material support. Resources may not lead to quality, but quality always leads to resources. Quality first.


Provide Access to Insight: Intellectual Resources



The core of the campus, at its heart, is the flow of intellectual resources, insight and wisdom. No aspiration of WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World will be achieved without substantial commitments in information technology, the Cornette Library, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum and other resources that power creative thinking and provide insights to students, faculty and the Panhandle community.


Engage and Empower Excellence in Human Capital



Faculty and staff are the University. The University must recruit, reward and retain the very best. The sine qua non of all faculty and staff at every level must be teaching and the support thereof in its diverse manifestations.


Foster Locally Responsive Research and Infrastructure



Sustain excellence in research, scholarship and creative activities that first address local needs and ideals. Excellence in research and scholarship will attract human and material resources. This is a critical goal.


Purposefully Lead, Govern and Organize



Great universities exist where there is enlightened leadership. This is true at the state, system and university levels. It is true from within and from without. It comes from every rank of university life: staff, faculty and administration. No segment has the corner on the market of innovation and insight. Recognition of this will make WT better positioned to lead.



THE DUTY OF CITIZENSHIP The many rights granted to citizens carry considerable responsibilities. Theodore Roosevelt probably said it best in his speech “Citizenship in a Republic” given on April 23, 1910: The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, and comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. 3 The essence of Roosevelt’s proclamation was that power and purpose grow out of a person’s duty as a citizen through the exercise of free will. This University embraces the duty to encourage and sustain individual responsibility to the region, the state and the country. Noble citizenship and its

purpose expressed in an effective university create a potent and useful force for change.

THE VALUE OF WORK WT will continue to encourage students to reap the benefits of both work and study and to intertwine these experiences seamlessly, thereby benefiting both. The educational experience is one in which all students are treated equally and effectively guided by knowledgeable faculty members. Opportunities exist for individuals to exhibit abilities and accomplishments above the norm for which individuals are recognized and acknowledged. Internships and apprenticeships create appreciation for the consequence of a hierarchy. To provide and encourage students to incorporate on-the-job training in both apprenticeship and internship settings, WT works to expand these types of pedagogical extensions of the classroom. Students, regardless of major, benefit from internships/ apprenticeships that combine learning and laboring. Providing sufficient mentors and meaningful experiences for students to bridge the gap between education and experience is a challenge WT is prepared to undertake.


THE PRIMACY OF PLACE To a great extent, West Texas A&M University is a creation of the Texas Panhandle and the state of Texas. An intentional focus on the region will result in considerable advantages, including:

OUR CAMPUS IS A PLACE THAT PROVIDES THE OPPORTUNITY FOR REVERENCE Typically, we think of reverence as related to matters of faith, but campuses also have places of reverence. WT is in close proximity to several faith-based organizations and maintains Joseph A. Hill Memorial Chapel on WT’s campus. WT will enhance and continue to improve on manifold opportunities for such spaces of reverence. I met a man who proposed to his wife at Kimbrough Memorial Stadium. Understandably, this makes Kimbrough a place of reverence for this man and woman. —Walter V. Wendler OUR CAMPUS IS EMBLEMATIC OF TEXAS WT’s place in the state of Texas and in the Panhandle provides geographic, cultural and climatic distinctiveness. Appreciating these aspects of the Panhandle should help define the nature of our physical campus. The openness, entrepreneurism, self-assurance, toughness and tenacity are resident and critical for this place we call home. West Texas A&M University will powerfully reinforce our sense of place. WT is Texas, and, as Abraham Lincoln supposedly quipped, “I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives. I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” EMBRACING PARTNERSHIP Given the geographic and population characteristics of this region, partnerships with community colleges and peer institutions will be the natural outgrowth of a regional

• heightened attention to the needs of students from the local service region;

• positive attention from lawmakers, business and industry;

• an attractiveness to students from afar, even as we serve first locally, who will be drawn to a university with clarity of purpose and distinctiveness; • mission excellence growing out of the collective impact of research, scholarship and creative interests of faculty, focused on students and delivered with a regional responsiveness; • sustained regional economic impact recognized by leaders across the locale, state and nation; and • cost efficiencies generated by the ability to focus resources more narrowly according to the regional priority. WT will be attractive to those who call the Panhandle home as well as inviting to those beyond the regional community.


Amarillo and Canyon are mutually supportive – neither can exist without the other. WT’s responsiveness to its local community, its host and partner, creates vitality and value for both. The University Economic Development Association suggests that institutional engagement with partners and stakeholders creates sustainable growth and extends the value of both the campus and the community. By 2035, or sooner, WT will fully reflect this principle.


priority. Partnerships with national research institutions will increase opportunities for WT graduates to complete their graduate and professional studies at renowned research universities. With the rise of college costs and student debt, the cost effectiveness of post-secondary education is justly under scrutiny. Because community colleges provide a low cost, highly efficient way for students to start their college career, WT encourages students to attend one of these quality institutions if they lack the resources to attend WT without borrowing money during their first 60 hours of college study. WT will work closely with community colleges to make this path to a bachelor’s degree efficient and effective. For students intending to complete a graduate professional degree, WT will partner with outstanding national research universities. These partnerships will grant access for WT students to competitive post-graduate programs at flagship universities, including Texas A&M University. Quality creates quality.

magnet for new business development suggesting that arts and humanities organizations are a genesis of innovation.

WT Provides Priceless Assets to Support the Arts and Humanities. The heart of the Texas Panhandle, home to dozens of small communities, relies on Amarillo and Canyon for cultural, human and community sustenance. The cultural context of this constellation of communities revolves around the I-27 Corridor connecting Amarillo and Canyon. The region looks to West Texas A&M University to cultivate appreciation for the human condition and its expression provided by the arts. A special focus on the history of the Texas Panhandle comes alive through the work of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum.

The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is a

vehicle for engendering community support. With

its calendar full of programs and relationships

with schools and businesses in Amarillo and


Canyon, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

A Rightful Place in Rural America. A recent report from the National Endowment for the Arts regarding rural arts, design and innovation in America reveals that civic engagement and leadership result from engaging with the arts. 4 In addition, local businesses consider the impact of the arts and entertainment to be a

reaches out into the community in service and

partnership. —The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum wtamu.edu/wt125pphm


The University recognizes the rights of students as active and responsible citizens and its power to produce change for the betterment of the country.


Where we are. A University’s Regional Responsibilities



The Texas Panhandle includes small communities and agricultural populations of the northernmost 26 counties of the state. Over 20 percent of the Texas population lives in agrarian communities. This proportion changes little for our national population. About 80 percent of America’s citizens live on three percent of the land. According to the United Nations, about 45 percent of the world’s population live in non- urban areas. While the worldwide population continues to urbanize, smaller communities are critical to the organic functioning of the world. In almost every case in every nation, smaller communities are the keepers of the values that define a people. At WT, we recognize, preserve and celebrate both the natural assets and the values possessed by rural communities. The Panhandle


With more than 20 percent of the Texas population

living in agrarian communities, WT is dedicated to addressing the needs of these rural communities through its strategic-planning process.


2017 Population Estimates Panhandle Counties

Hansford 5,447

Ochiltree 10,073

Dallam 7,208

Sherman 3,067

Lipscomb 3,378

Hartley 5,691

Moore 22,097

Hutchinson 21,375

Roberts 938

Hemphill 4,024

Carson 6,032

Oldham 2,114

Potter 120,458

Gray 22,404

Wheeler 5,358

Deaf Smith 18,836

Randall 134,442

Armstrong 1,879

Donley 3,311

Collingsworth 2,987

Childress 7,067

Parmer 9,842

Castro 7,843

Swisher 7,515

Briscoe 1,528

Hall 3,071

U.S. Census

WT will focus its research and service efforts on local needs and in the general areas that define the Texas Panhandle.


COMMUNITY LIFE Rural, agricultural communities typically lack access to cultural activities and events that make life special through vibrant, intellectually-moving experiences. The future prosperity of these small communities often comes from the humanities, the fine arts and other cultural perspectives. Colleges and universities that commit to the study of the arts and humanities in agrarian settings have ever-widening spheres of influence. WT will continue to produce exceptional musicians, dancers, artists, theatre performers and educators of the arts who have access and contribute to the local arts community and who also maintain a dedication to sharing a vibrant social and cultural life in the Texas Panhandle. SCHOOLS IN RURAL SETTINGS The single most powerful tool for equipping the region, enhancing its health and prosperity and delivering the quality of life desired by its inhabitants is education. Supporting Texas Panhandle educators in various ways has defined this University since its inception. WT will continue to expand and adjust its work to provide high-quality educational leaders who live and work across this region. At the writing of this plan, the University has just received approval to open a first-of-its-kind doctoral program that will prepare educators to lead rural schools effectively and with innovation. The Doctor of Education Degree in Educational Leadership is a prototype for additional graduate programs that will serve the top 26 counties in the Texas Panhandle with distinction. WT is committed to serving the needs of small school districts in agricultural settings with excellence. ENRICHED ENTERPRISE Enriched enterprise is important to the vitality of the Texas Panhandle and the people who live in the small communities in the region. WT will continue to heighten and elevate the importance of individuals in the entrepreneurial process, ideation and development of business concepts that improve the quality of life. WT is committed to serving the region and well beyond with successful entrepreneurs and business leaders who are empowered to lead others.

BEEF The U.S. leads the world in producing beef . 6 Moreover, no region in the United States feeds and produces as many beef cattle as the Panhandle and High Plains region of our state—about one third of the total U.S. production within a 100-mile radius of Canyon. 7 With the leadership of people like Paul Engler, inaugural inductee into the Cattle Feeder’s Hall of Fame, feed cattle became big business in the Texas Panhandle. Driven by regional forces, WT has a regional responsibility and is committed to beef production. RURAL HEALTH CARE In small communities, there is a critical need for people to have access to care or resources in order to improve or maintain physical health and mental health. WT will continue to focus our health industry efforts on rural population health care initiatives and the people of the Texas Panhandle who need access to health care, health care education or health care resources. WT is committed to serving the health care needs of outlying areas of the Panhandle with excellence. WATER AND ENERGY Water, one of the most precious resources for survival, is scarce in the Texas Panhandle. In fact, the Panhandle is a significant part of the agricultural heart of the nation— one of the 10 most challenged regions of the country for water scarcity. Because of that, WT plans to systematically focus on the water needs of the top 26 counties of Texas. In addition, WT has a regional responsibility in the area of energy. The Texas Panhandle is one of the most consistently windy regions of the United States, and Amarillo, the closest and most important neighbor of Canyon, is one of the four windiest cities in America. In short, WT’s location provides tangible opportunity to understand wind energy and the science and prospects for its effective use. WT is committed to its responsibilities of water and energy in the region in order to create value beyond the Texas Panhandle.


The plan. From the Panhandle to the World



WT’s objective is to attain doctoral status and in so doing becomes something currently unknown: a Regional Research University .

A Regional Research Universit y is focused on solving the complex and demanding problems and challenges associated with the constellation of many small communities served by a single metropolitan area. WT aspires to stand alone as an institution that understands the needs of regional communities in pursuits related to agriculture, commerce and economic development, education, engineering, health care and social and cultural progress in a way that is distinctive.


Aspirant Peers: Doctoral Degrees Awarded

(Data: 2014-2015 academic year) Average

East Tennessee State University

Idaho State University

Wright State University−Main Campus

Indiana University of Pennsylvania−Main Campus

University of Louisiana at Monroe

Indiana State University

Valdosta State University

University of West Georgia

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Tennessee Technological University

West Texas A&M University







WT will become a university unlike any other, well suited to the people, place and progress

of the Texas Panhandle.

This unique context gives definition and purpose to the term Regional Research University . Simply put, the overall purpose of a Regional Research University is to serve regional students and regional needs first, believing that if the institution cannot serve locally first, it will serve nowhere well. This focus does not limit a Regional Research University’s world-wide reach; instead, it reaffirms through transferability that by focusing first on the region, the needs of similar regions across the nation and world will benefit from its attention, research and resolution of the challenges and opportunities that characterize the region. 10

In serving this distinctive region, we will be able to transfer our insights and ideas to other similar regions in the nation and even beyond our national borders.



A Carefully Conceived Vision for the Future While WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World is an innovative process for the future, a well-developed and clear understanding of where WT fits within the current educational landscape is important. To this end, three distinct groups of “peer” institutions have been identified that help position WT in 2017-2018 as we seek to define what we intend to become by 2035.

peer institution groups

GEOGRAPHIC PEERS This set of peers includes both Master’s and Doctoral institutions that are similar to WT in many ways, including geographically.


ASPIRANT PEERS This group is key to the strategic plan, as Aspirant Peers are models for WT’s intention to achieve Doctoral status in the future.

This group represents institutions currently similar to WT and is comprised of Master’s

Colleges and Universities.

HOW DO WE COMPARE The Office of Institutional Effectiveness, Data and Analytics at WT conducted a months-long analytical study to identify which institutions should be considered for inclusion in the comparative peer groups. The primary data source for this analysis was the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). 11 IPEDS, which is updated annually, includes data for more than 7,000 institutions and is the de facto data source for inter-institutional comparisons. An initial IPEDS query of data from the 2014-2015 academic year resulted in a data set that included 373 institutions and 215 variables

for consideration in the peer analysis. The first phase of data analysis reduced the sample to 215 institutions and 99 variables that were included in subsequent analyses. These variables represented many aspects of the University, including admissions, student completions, enrollment, faculty and staff, financial information, institutional characteristics and student success. Even though more than 80 variables were included in analyzing institutional peers, one of the primary factors considered in creating the peer groups was the current Carnegie Classification of each institution. These Carnegie designations are reflected in the descriptions of each these groups.




Although geographic peers have been identified, there are “competitive peers” that could have been considered. Our students frequently choose between WT and Texas A&M, the University of Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech. Some potential students have legacy connections where their parents, siblings, uncles, aunts and/or grandparents may have attended those institutions, and students consider these institutions carefully. While WT legitimately competes with these institutions for some of its students, comparisons with those institutions will not be made in this analysis. These are national research universities that produce hundreds of millions of dollars of funded research annually, manage endowments in the hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, and field Division I intercollegiate athletics programs. These institutions are fundamentally different from WT. In each and every case, they do not have the distinctiveness (regional mission, common history and geographic locale) that WT shares with the Texas Panhandle. The selection of peer institutions should not be misinterpreted. WT does not want to be exactly like any other university on these lists. Rather, WT wants to be considered in the same family of these universities, while maintaining our identity as WT. Much of our uniqueness is an “accident of geography” that gives us something that no other institutions possess. None are part of the Texas Panhandle. WT is distinguished

from all others in a remarkable way, and it is the culture and geography of the Texas Panhandle that will drive what we do in the coming decades. The desire to be good, the fear of failure and the desire for familiarity are three fundamental conditions of human nature. WT will address these through a steadfast determination to build on strengths, eliminate weaknesses, seek opportunities and face threats creatively and energetically. The legislature and the people of Texas should be more aware of what WT does for the state’s economy and for citizens’ quality of life. An understanding of WT’s deep responsibility will provide the foundation for this, but it will be built upon by a new view of how we can provide leadership. WT accepts the responsibility to inform our many constituents in a way that will set an example for other universities. New alliances and new forms of teaching and learning will emerge. These will shape educational programs that go beyond the individual and impact learners from childhood to advanced age, in primary and secondary schools, in corporate offices and places of production, individually and in groups, for profit and for fun. This is the changing nature of higher education, and it will mark WT’s excellence.


A key component of the WT 125 Strategic

Plan looks at the University’s goal to reach doctoral status and the role Aspirant Peers play in that objective.


A Glossary of Terms for the Following Charts

SACSOC The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges — SACSOC is the regional organization of accredited degree-granting higher education institutions in the Southern states—Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia—that share values and practices to assure educational quality. FTE Full-time Enrollment — FTE enrollment is a measure of institutional size that normalizes the mix of full-time and part-time students. RET RATE Retention Rate —This rate measures fall-to-fall retention of first-time, full-time students. It is a key performance indicator of institutional effectiveness used by many universities and organizations across higher education. 4YR GRAD RATE 4-year Graduation Rate — Graduation rate of first-time, full-time students is a key performance indicator of institutional effectiveness used by many universities and organizations across higher education. 6YR GRAD RATE 6-year Graduation Rate — Graduation rate of first-time, full-time students is a key performance indicator of institutional effectiveness used by many universities and organizations across higher education. DEGREES/FTE Degrees per Full-time Enrolled Students — This locally-created metric divides total degrees awarded by student FTE to make ‘apples-to-apples’ comparisons across institutions with different sizes of enrollment. CARNEGIE The Carnegie Classification® —The Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education is a framework for classifying colleges and universities in the United States. The framework primarily serves educational and research purposes, where it is often important to identify groups of roughly comparable institutions. DOCTORAL DEGREES Doctoral Degrees — The number of doctoral degrees awarded is a key metric as WT seeks to attain Doctoral Status.


Comparison Peers


(Data: 2014-2015 academic year)













0.22 /FTE

Austin Peay State University








Indiana University-Purdue University-Fort Wayne IN








Indiana University-South Bend









McNeese State University









Morehead State University









Northern Michigan University









Northwestern State University of Louisiana









Pittsburg State University









Southern Utah University









The University of Tennessee-Martin









University of Central Oklahoma









University of Nebraska at Kearney









University of North Alabama









University of Southern Indiana









University of Wisconsin-Whitewater









West Texas A&M University









Italicized rows indicate deans’ request


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