Message from the President
With the country facing its worst economic crisis in decades, many universities are facing budget shortfalls, layoffs and other tough financial choices to ensure their fiscal viability. Sadly, the impact from these types of decisions will be felt for many years, especially in the communities served by the schools.
Fortunately, the University of the Incarnate Word is not only weathering the worst, we are thriving.
We have not had any hiring freezes, and in fact, we will continue hiring new employees
for the fall semester. We have also budgeted for new positions – faculty and non-faculty alike – as we expect to maintain the enrollment growth of the past few years. You may recall that our enrollment increased from 6,007 in 2007 to 6,703 in 2008, one of the largest percentage increases among private or public universities in Texas.
More importantly, we have increased our financial aid budget in order to help students
and their families during these difficult economic times while also keeping down our tuition costs. Although we are the fourth-largest private university in Texas, we have the lowest tuition rate among the state’s six largest private universities.
Underlining our economic well-being was the great news we received in February – our new School of Optometry was granted pre-accreditation approval to begin its doctoral professional program. This is an important step in allowing us to pursue student recruitment, selection and admissions. We expect to enroll between 50 and 60 students in our inaugural class.
The School of Optometry facilities will be housed in two locations. At 60,000 square feet, the primary location will be in the heart of the San Antonio Medical Center. It will be comprised of the academic headquarters and one of the two clinical facilities. The second location will be a 30,000-square-foot clinical facility in the economically impoverished East Side of San Antonio, an area whose residents have historically had limited access to healthcare.
In conjunction with the doctor of optometry program, we are launching a Bachelor of Science degree program in Vision Science. The undergraduate degree’s curriculum, structure and content will provide graduates with a strong foundation in the science of vision and suitable credentials to embark on a biomedical graduate research career, or to enter the workforce as a vision-science or ophthalmic-related specialist.
The BS in Vision Science will also provide students with an opportunity to earn a degree that will satisfy the requirements for entrance in the School of Optometry as well as other health-related professional programs, such as medicine and dentistry, offered through other universities.
Also in February, we opened our latest ADCaP branch, this one located at Rolling Oaks Mall, near the intersection of Loop 1604 and I-35. The beautiful 5,500-square-foot facility is equipped with four classrooms, a computer lab, two advising offices and a reception area.
I encourage you to read the rest of the magazine to catch up on what else has been happening at UIW, including our impending switch to the Lone Star Conference. Remember, it’s because of your commitment to our community that we can continue fulfilling Incarnate Word's goal of offering students the best possible educational opportunities within a context of faith.
Let me leave you with a final thought – even in difficult economic times, an investment in higher education is something that will yield returns for a lifetime.
Special blessings on you and your loved ones throughout 2009.
Louis J. Agnese Jr., Ph.D.