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University's Jones delivers latest update

By Scott Harvey

Commerce – The economy and tuition were among the topics addressed Thursday during the latest university community update at Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Provost Larry Lemanski, Vice President for Student Access and Success Mary Hendrix and President Dan Jones spoke during the event.

Spring, 2010 enrollment figures were up when compared to the previous year. Retention rates were also impressive, with 90 percent of freshmen returning from last year.

"Students go away for lots of reasons but they come back for only a few," said Dr. Jones. "They come back because it is a supportive and nurturing environment where they are treated with dignity and respect. Clearly that's the kind of environment that all of you have created here on the campus of A&M-Commerce and we see it showing up in our success rates and these very impressive numbers."

On the flip side, Dr. Jones presented figures showing a major decline in the state's overall revenue from tax collections at a 20.3 percent loss. There's even been a call for all state agencies to cut five percent of its budget in the 2010-2011 biennium.

"It's very easy when you get involved in a process like this [budget cuts] to make decisions emotionally, and that's really the last thing we want to do," said Jones. "We need to look where our core functions are, what preserves our ability to deliver our core mission and then cut around the edges to the maximum we can."

The five percent budget cut means the university must find a way to remove $3.8 million. A plan for that process is due in mid February.

Tuition was also addressed. A&M-Commerce recently held three public hearings regarding a proposed increase in designated tuition for the 2011-2012 academic year. The maximum increase is $3.71 per semester credit hour. An actual increase will be determined at the A&M System Board of Regents' May meeting.

Other items addressed Thursday included new/extended programs including construction engineering and a proposed computational mathematics program.

A&M-Commerce is also in the process of hiring an Associate Vice President of Equal Opportunity and Diversity. 28 applications have been received. The university will invite the three finalists to campus in March and are predicting a June start date for the position.

You can view video of Thursday's community update at