By Mallory Schlabach, Editor in Chief
In an attempt to set the university apart from its main competitors including Texas A&M, Baylor and University of Texas, ACU will seek to increase the level of academic challenge in the classroom, said Dr. Royce Money, president of the university, in a faculty and staff meeting Wednesday.
Wednesday’s presentation alerted faculty and staff in two separate sessions to the plans for the 21st Century Vision, a document of future goals for the university to achieve.
Money said in a national survey given to freshmen and seniors each year, seniors have responded that they aren’t sufficiently challenged in the classrooms. To change this, he said faculty need to feel empowered by the administration to implement a more rigorous approach to education, whether that is through more challenging courses, higher standards on tests and assignments or raising the grading scale, all at each faculty’s discretion.
“It is far too easy for the student culture to get sidetracked with extracurricular activities and social interactions,” Money said. “Take Sing Song for example; faculty see an increased drop in attendance and grades during Sing Song.
“Don’t get me wrong, social involvement is important at a university, and I love Sing Song and the other activities students are involved in, but if it takes away from the primary reason a student is here, than something has to change,” Money said.
Among Money’s goal of changing the student culture on campus include recruiting more talented Christian students; increasing the retention and graduation rates to 80 percent and 60 percent, respectively; growing the $260 million endowment fund to $1 billion; and delivering a unique, Christ-centered experience that draws students into community.
Money said after discussing where the university should go for the past two years, it is time to set forth a direction.
What he presented Wednesday was the same document also presented to the Board of Trustees at its biannual meeting in February. In August, the Board is expected to begin filling in the details of how this vision will work in each department.
More than 200 faculty and staff members were present at the presentations and could ask questions about the proposed vision.
“This might sound ostentatious, but by 2020, ACU will become the premiere university for the education of Christ-centered, global leaders,” Money said. “This is where we will compare against religious institutions that take their faith heritages seriously.”
Only two of the universities top 10 competitors are Christian universities, enforcing a trend the university has noticed of entering Christian freshman students who aren’t even considering ACU as an option.
“We’re too similar to our competition right now and it’s time we became a higher quality of higher education institutions,” he said.
Money also said the Vision includes renovations to the Campus Center, which will begin this summer; updating technology in campus facilities; improving the quality of Chapel; changing the core curriculum; improving intramurals on campus for the more than 3,000 students that participate; name branding the university; nationally recruiting; and increasing the amount of scholarships available for students.
Faculty and staff were instructed to think about the proposed vision and to direct comments and questions back to Money following the meeting. A Zoomerang survey was sent out to faculty and staff concerning the vision Thursday, as well.
Money concluded the session by reiterating what the university will continue to do in the future.
“We will continue to be faithful and relevant, to focus on the heart and be accessible and affordable,” he said. “We want to keep our heritage of faith and aim for the quality of soul. This is not my vision or your vision right here, this is our vision.”