As the fall semester swiftly approaches, Texas Wesleyan faculty, staff and students are looking towards the return date in anticipation. After a year of being apart and navigating a series of changes, uncertainties, and “new normals,” coming back to campus feels like coming home for many of us. We’re ready to be back and better than ever!
What does being back and “better than ever” look like for TXWES? The university is committed to a strong return focused on reconnecting individuals to the Texas Wesleyan community by providing a safe, enriching learning and social environment. Each office and student will play a vital role in the return process and bringing the vibrancy back to the campus that is so important to each of us.
Texas Wesleyan University President Fred Slabach praised the broad response of the campus in the wake of the pandemic. “We have proved to ourselves that we are resilient — that we can respond effectively and quickly to any environment or emergency.” For its ability to respond quickly and begin effectively providing a “rigorous high-quality education,” Texas Wesleyan received accolades from a nonprofit higher education organization.
We are continually committed to a Smaller. Smarter. educational experience amidst the ever-changing world of communications and technology. Over the course of 2020-2021, the university gained a significant amount of knowledge and experience utilizing various communication and technological programs for the purposes of providing a quality education, whether in person or online. As we move to return to campus for the fall, President Slabach said, “Our priority, as always, is to provide a premier academic experience by providing our students with individualized attention from excellent faculty in intentionally small classes so that students can fulfill their potential. We are excited that we will be able to engage students with in-person learning now that the vaccine is free and widely available.” We are ready for students, as well as faculty and staff, to make a safe and happy return to campus.
Dennis Hall, vice president for student affairs and dean of students, has seen many “displays of perseverance and tenacity” in TXWES students over the past year as they showed “their grit by working hard, taking care of business, and continuing their education.” The Office of Student Affairs is hard at work planning in-person programming for students to enjoy in the upcoming academic year. Hall says that the Student Affairs office is striving to foster opportunities for students “to have meaningful, educational, and fulfilling experiences … in a safe and healthy manner” and is looking forward to setting an amazing tone as we kick off the 2021-2022 school year.
Academics have certainly looked different over the past year. Our academic side has adapted to the changes in stride, collaborating internally to find new ways for students to keep receiving their quality Texas Wesleyan education in the face of adversity. Faculty and staff developed new skills utilizing technology through the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning that will continually be refined to serve the campus community going forward. Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs Hector Quintanilla prepares for students to return primarily to in-person instructional delivery with some online and hybrid classes, as opposed to the mainly hybrid model that was utilized throughout 2020-2021. Students can also expect a new, predominantly MW/TTH undergraduate class schedule with some MWF and F classes as they return to campus.
Quintanilla states that his goals for the coming academic year are to “continue strengthening our general education curriculum so that students have a distinctive experience that supports their career and life-long learning aspirations, help our students develop and vision their future career and advanced study goals, and give students the experience of leadership responsibilities while simultaneously supporting our surrounding community.” He says the learning experience in 2020-2021 became a “partnership” between the students, faculty and staff, with each supporting one another to “achieve the best possible outcome.” This spirit of collaboration and teamwork is one that will live on in the Texas Wesleyan community as students and their professors return to a more familiar style of learning in the coming year.
Christopher Deal, a senior exercise science major, can’t wait to get back to campus and re-immerse himself in all that Texas Wesleyan has to offer. Deal is actively involved in many facets of student life as a TXWES football team captain, Mortar Board inductee, a tutor for A&P and head resident assistant. You can expect to see him on the sidelines of as many games as possible once he’s back on campus. He has really missed being able to go to support other TXWES athletics teams because “college game day is an unforgettable experience regardless of the sport.” Deal recognizes the importance and advantage of having active, involved and loud fans at home games. He wants all of the teams to be able to take strength from the campus community’s attendance and you can bet he will be a part of the cheering crowd! Though Deal is looking forward to returning to all of his many roles on campus, what he is most excited for is the upcoming football season. He said of the football team: “As a family, we have been putting in hours of practice and dedication and I am excited to start the season.” Students, faculty, staff and alumni can all come together at the games to support TXWES teams at home, making a big difference in the experience of the players.
When asked what advice he would give to a new TXWES student, Deal responded by saying “Don’t be afraid to experience everything. You’ll never know the outcome unless you try,” and encouraged all students to “support all the clubs and sports here at the university.” Involvement in campus functions brings vitality and excitement to everyone, so whether you are a current student, an alumnus, or an employee, we encourage you to look for opportunities to get involved as we head into an amazing fall semester!
The past year has undoubtedly been a challenge. So much changed in such a short period of time, but in the process, we came together as a Texas Wesleyan community like never before. Through new virtual events and programming, adaptive education modalities, student efforts, and the tireless work of University faculty and staff, we have persevered and supported one another in ways not previously conceived as possible. The return to campus comes at a time when many of us are longing for a sense of belonging and fellowship. With the combined efforts of all who have called Texas Wesleyan “home” in some form, we know that this coming year will be one for the history books.