Gaertner optimistic at staff convocation

Faculty and staff started the fall semester with an annual meeting yesterday at the Criminal Justice Auditorium to discuss the growth of the university, donations and to honor professors for their achievements.

According to University President James Gaertner, Sam Houston State University is one of the fastest growing universities in the country.

Gaertner said SHSU enrollment has grown to over 16,000 students and is continuing to increase at 3.07 percent rate, which is approximately 491 new students this year.

“Everyone is coming to Sam Houston, so we must be doing something right,” said Gaertner. “SHSU is growing fast but staying friendly.”

He said with the help of the “seven figure donors” such as Dan Rather, John Ragsdale and Don Sanders and people contributing to the Capital Campaign, Sam Houston is capable of improving the image of the campus. Included in the expansion project is the 2.25 million dollar mall area in the center of the campus and the new Academic Building V, which is expected to open its doors next year.

In May 2008, construction is expected to begin on a $7.25 million dining facility, which will be located across from the Student Health Center. Another future construction development includes a $35 million performing arts building that will be devoted to dance, theatre and music students. Construction is set to begin in the summer of 2008. The projects are waiting on final approval from the Texas State University Board of Regents.

Gaertner said some of the contributions are going to help establish new student programs and bring awareness to other programs already established on campus such as the Alcohol Abuse Initiative.

Prior to the AAI’s creation, four SHSU students died from alcohol-related instances. Since the program’s existence, the death rate has decreased by 75 percent; meaning only one student has passed since the program began.

Several faculty and staff members received recognition for their service and commitment to the university. Dr. Mary Lynn Deshazo was honored when she received the 50 years service award.

“I appreciate the opportunity to serve Sam Houston,” she said. Dr. Deshazo was a full-time chemistry professor but now plans to continue her career as a part-time member of the university.

Dr. Jim Olson received the Regents Professor Award for his 35 years of service from the Texas State University System. Dr. Olson has written over 30 novels and received recognition for his achievements, such as the Ray and Pat Brown Book Award.

Gaertner encouraged his colleagues to continue building a solid foundation on the campus of Sam Houston State.

“Parents want to see their students go to a university that has high standards,” he said. “Growth happens if you do these things right, and we do these things right.”

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