President Schatzel pledges advocacy and reports progress at Fall Address

By Pam Gorsuch on September 7, 2017

Schatzel highlighted major TU achievements and assured community about recent federal legislative decisions

Towson University President Kim Schatzel delivered her annual fall address to a capacity crowd inside the Stephens Hall Theatre on Thursday, September 7.
Towson University President Kim Schatzel delivered her annual fall address to a capacity crowd inside the Stephens Hall Theatre on Thursday, September 7.

President Kim Schatzel addressed recent administrative decisions and highlighted major Towson University achievements at her Fall Address Thursday afternoon in the historic Stephens Hall Theatre.

Before beginning her speech, she asked the students, faculty, staff and community members to join her for a moment's silence for all those impacted by hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

She teased that University System of Maryland (USM) Chancellor—and former TU president—Robert Caret, who was seated in front, was at his favorite university, drawing laughter and applause. Her “shout out” to her husband Trevor Iles ahead of their imminent 34th wedding anniversary elicited further cheers.

Her address then moved to more sober topics, as Schatzel assured the community that TU and the University System of Maryland are working closely to advocate for federal research and scholarship funding, the continuation of federal aid for low-income and minority students, and for a solution to restore DACA.

Read the president's statement on DACA

“The university and University System of Maryland are working to advocate for funding and programs that we firmly believe support academic excellence in teaching, scholarship and creative work as well as support the success of our students, our faculty, our institutions and higher ed in this nation,” Schatzel said.

Schatzel also reported on the state of the university, sharing recent success, progress and recognition that make TU’s community and reputation strong.

“We as a university are indeed at an inflection point—a decisive moment in Towson University’s proud history that marks we are on a cusp of an era of very significant and very positive change,” she continued.

Schatzel pointed to application and enrollment increases as one sign of this inflection point. At 22,499, TU’s projected fall 2017 enrollment is at its highest ever, and the incoming freshman class is the largest, one of the most academically prepared and the most racially diverse in TU’s history.

Schatzel shared that applications for this year’s freshman class marked a nearly 12 percent increase compared to the previous fall, the fall 2017 transfer class represented a 10 percent increase over 2016, and that the incoming graduate class is 12 percent larger than last year.

She also highlighted athletic successes both on and off the field as contributing to the strong state of TU. Coach Mike Jackson and three members of the CAA champion women’s track and field team stood to great applause during the address.

Five TU teams—men’s basketball, men’s golf, women’s cross-country, gymnastics and tennis—earned NCAA Academic Progress Public Recognition Awards for posting academic scores in the top 10 percent of their sport nationally. Seven teams posted the top APR score in the CAA, and 14 of TU's 19 varsity teams have the highest APR scores of all Division I schools in the USM.

In terms of scholarly excellence, Schatzel called attention to $1 million Howard Hughes Medical Institute grant awarded to the biological sciences; chemistry; and physics, astronomy and geosciences departments within the Fisher College of Science and Mathematics. The grant—one of just 24 awarded nationwide—will enable TU to establish the Towson University Research Enhancement Program to bring authentic research experiences to a large and diverse group of students early in their undergraduate career.

In her address, Schatzel cited strong rankings as outside acknowledgment of TU’s inflection point. This year, Forbes and Money Magazine ranked TU among the nation’s best colleges, U.S. News and World Report ranked TU as a top 15 university in the Northeast for the 32nd consecutive year, and Washington Monthly—which measures institutions on social mobility, research and service—ranked TU the highest public university in any category within the state.

The address also highlighted TU’s physical development and progress toward presidential priorities.

Schatzel warned of cranes and construction on campus over the next seven years, as the university moves forward on several capital projects.

Nearly $700 million in capital investment will be made to TU’s physical plant. That includes the new Science Facility, which will break ground this fall, the University Union renovation and addition that will be begin construction in 2018, and the College of Health Professions building—a key university priority because of the more 22,000 unfilled health professions positions in Maryland. Currently, the College of Health Professions can only enroll 15 percent of its applicants because of space limitations.

Schatzel also mentioned upcoming reports from the BTU Council, the Committee on Faculty Excellence and the Career Readiness Committee.

BTU will soon release its first report, sharing the current status and outcomes of the BTU Initiative and the 160 partnerships therein. Plans for the development of the Faculty Academic Center for Excellence and a lifelong Career Center have been presented to University Senate, and implementation and funding model strategies for both centers are expected to be complete in early to mid-2018. 

To close her address, she drew attention to the basic but very important role TU faculty and staff play: as educators, mentors and guardians to students.

“It is a responsibility and privilege I know we all take very seriously and it informs all that we do as a university community. I want to thank every one of you for all you do each and every day to lift up Towson and each other. Because of all of you, there is much, much to be proud of at Towson University, and indeed, there are great things ahead!”

Read the full text of the Fall Address in Presidential Communications.