Throughout the nearly 150-year history of the university, TCU has owed a very great deal to those who have invested their philanthropic resources in our great enterprise. Individual stories of generosity are legion and indeed help to define the deep character of the university. Many of the buildings that we enjoy and the programs that instruct carry the names of folk, great and small, who have trusted us to light the torch of knowledge for generations past, present and yet to come.
The stewards of this generosity are entrusted with more than just the management of resources. Their success is essential to the growth of our university and the financial emancipation of the budget from an excessive dependence on student tuition. The demographics of the future demand that we take serious thought on the nature, value and growth of the endowment in allowing us to support a balanced and academically distinguished academic enterprise.
Over the past twenty years or so, we have invested heavily in sundry buildings that have dramatically improved the landscape of the campus in both physical and metaphysical ways.
First appearances do indeed count in helping to establish the attractiveness of our campus; there are undoubtedly more improvements and projects that will require our attention. Much of our fabric and operations are entailed and will require constant and consistent financial maintenance in the years to come.
In addition to the visual feast on display across so much of the campus, it is critical to our continuing success to ensure that the actions of the university highlight a vision that will excite us all. This quest, as espoused by the impressive goals of the current advancement campaign, emphasizes support in three distinct areas: scholarships, endowed faculty and programs.
Ever since the original VIA planning, the university has been concerned by the issue of decreasing high school graduation rates.
That trend has accelerated since the great recession of 2008-2010 as more and more folk question both the cost and benefit of higher education. In the years ahead, TCU will need to focus on the absolute necessity of attracting classes that are capable of sustaining the financial operations of the university. In tandem with this, it is essential that we build up the scholarship component of the endowment and thus enrich the diversity of the student body in a financially realistic way.
Within most academic circles, the greatest panache accorded to a university is the quality of the faculty present on the campus. At their best, endowed faculty can illuminate entire programs of scholarship; they can open nature’s secrets; they can excite great young minds; they can have a catalytic effect on entire departments.
When all the dust has settled, the attraction of the university will depend upon the perceived and real value of the degrees that TCU awards. This is dependent on a combination of student success, faculty flair, first-rate facilities and prestigious programs. Deep financial support is essential if our various programs are to grow and meet their potential. The Endowment of Programs at department, college or school level can help to elevate our educational enterprise in so many ways and is a critical counterweight to possible budget shortfalls. It also frees imaginations, as evidenced by success of programs strengthened by the recent endowments of the Honors College, the College of Fine Arts, the Institute for Child Development and the Ralph Lowe Energy Management Program.