Dr. Shipley and Students 2020Dr. Suzanne Shipley sitting in a char.

MSU Texas has now completed our first few weeks of the 2020 fall semester, celebrating the return of our students into the residence halls and into instruction in three modalities—in-person, online and hybrid. I wanted to share with you, our closest friends and most generous benefactors, the state of the campus as we boldly embark on this unprecedented experience.

Because we believe it is in our students’ best interest to return their lives to normalcy within the constraints of the current situation, we’ve worked through the summer on procedures that change our approach to teaching, to student life, to the workplace of our employees, and to the residential experience in which we take such pride.  We had heard from so many that they want to be on campus and miss that residential experience.  So we have responded with safety as our first concern.  Guiding us through this evolving situation are health experts, peers and our emerging partnership with the Texas Tech University System.  

For those who choose to study or teach online we have built in the capacity to meet their needs, and for those whose health requires they work remotely the processes are in place to respond to their requests. We are avoiding large group settings and social times together, no more shared meals or close interactions. Our intent is to maximize the opportunities students seek while minimizing our risks in providing them. We are profoundly grateful for generous donors, volunteers and advocates that have accompanied us in this endeavor, as you, our members of the President’s Excellence Circle have done for many months now.

Along with our attention to safety, it is remarkable to note the progress MSU has made on so many fronts this summer. We are taking successful strides toward our first doctoral program and are in the final stage of seeking approval from our national accreditation agency for an Ed.D., the doctorate in education. That degree will provide this area with highly qualified school administrators, a need we are looking forward to meeting. 

You’ve probably seen some of the enhancements made recently to the campus and beyond, as our new building on the corner of Midwestern Parkway and Maplewood takes shape. It now serves as our purchasing and warehouse location, moving those operations from prime central campus space in the Daniel Building to this off-campus location. The other activities in Daniel that support our large facilities operation are shifting to their beautifully bricked new home on the corner of Louis J. Rodriguez and Hampstead and Bridwell Hall, which will also host the West College of Education.  This move provides some much-needed additional classroom space not previously available to the Education faculty in Ferguson Hall.  Next will come the newest construction project on campus, the transformation of the Daniel Building into the Bridwell Activities Center. Its location across from the Clark Student Center is ideal for its intended expansion of Greek Life and Student Life activities. We are grateful to the J.S. Bridwell Foundation for this much-needed opportunity for our students.

We hope that you will stop in soon to see the beautifully renovated Moffett Library, boasting the colors of Texas wildflowers, with expansive scenes of our beautiful state decorating study pods, staircases, and walls. All in all, it is a good time to live and learn at MSU Texas.

Finally, we are making good progress toward an alliance with the Texas Tech University System, having completed the initial negotiation stage and finalized a Memorandum of Understanding.  We are now working in tandem with the TTU System to complete at least two additional steps over the course of 2020-2021. Those are securing two changes, one in the state legislation regarding our status as an independent university, and the second is the change in our national accreditation from being overseen by the MSU Board of Regents to oversight by the Board of the Texas Tech University System. Beginning now we will work with our local legislators to sponsor the legislation necessary to request approval for this change in status from the State. The TTU System will work with us during the legislative process as legislation is introduced and considered by the Texas Legislature. The parallel action to shift our accreditation status with our regional accreditor SACS-COC will be undertaken primarily by the TTU System with input as needed from MSU Texas. With approval from this accrediting body, the fiduciary responsibility for MSU transfers from our local Board of Regents to the Board of Regents of the TTU System.  

If those two final steps are both successfully completed and the legislation approved by the Governor at the completion of the 87th legislative session, we would become the fifth member institution in the Texas Tech University System in September 2021, just as we begin our centennial celebration!

Please continue to think of us as we adjust to these many challenges and opportunities. Thank you again for your vital guidance and support in these endeavors.

Dr. Suzanne Shipley