TCU students had the opportunity to speak with Chancellor Victor Boschini and several other faculty members at the student town hall meeting in the Brown-Lupton University Union on Tuesday.
The floor was open for students to ask questions to a five-person panel at the meeting.
Chancellor Boschini was joined by David Whillock, dean of the Bob Schieffer College of Communication; Jane Kucko, director for the Center of International Studies: TCU Abroad; senior journalism major Katie Newville and junior environmental science major Jimmy Greene.
The meeting was open to all students, but only seven students showed up.
Boschini said low attendance has been commonplace since the town hall meetings began 4 years ago, but the small turnouts have made the meetings much more enjoyable and personal.
“I love it and it’s fun. I joke around that not a lot of people come but if hundreds came it would be different,” Boschini said. “It’s cool because I can talk to each student, get to know their name, and give them a hard time; something that I couldn’t do if hundreds of them came.”
A major topic of discussion at the meeting was the study abroad program. Kucko spoke about how it has seen tremendous growth in recent years.
“Semester study abroad is going off the charts, even in the fall which has traditionally been lower because of football,” Kucko said. “We currently have 30 percent of our students studying abroad and about 300 students will be going abroad this summer.”
Kucko said the university typically has around 600 students study abroad each year.
“It is designed for the TCU community to be involved globally, and we’ve seen a 38 percent increase in study abroad the past two years,” Kucko said. “We have incentives to encourage students and we are seeing more doors open for students.”
The panel focused on a trip to Panama a group of students and faculty took through the TCU Global Academy during spring break. Newville and Greene were among the students who went on the trip.
“Experiencing it is different than reading about it in a textbook,” Greene said. “It’s cool seeing the positive change in areas of struggle but you can also relate back to home. You can see the bigger picture.”
Newville said that it was a learning experience for her as well.
“Study abroad experiences have had such an incredible impact,” Newville said. “I look at my jobs now as ways to be creative and think globally, not just locally. What may make money the fastest might not last the longest.”
Kucko said the TCU Global Academy, which hosted the Panama trip, operates on a selection process. A board puts out names, those students apply, and then a review team selects a number of students.
“We want and need students who are willing to work hard,” Kucko said.
The study abroad program was not the only topic discussed during the meeting, however.
Boschini answered questions regarding completion dates for structures such as Colby Hall and Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, both which are being renovated, and the parking garage that is being built next to Amon G. Carter Stadium.
Boschini said Daniel Myer Coliseum and the parking garage will be completed this fall and Colby Hall will be completed this summer, according to Boschini.
“Colby will put 340 beds back in place that we desperately need.”
He also highlighted a $100 million project to expand the Neeley School of Business that includes the construction of new buildings, a quad, and a new entrance to the university.
“We want to raise the money for this project. No student money will be used,” Boschini said. “We’ve already raised around half of it.”
Boschini joked around that university has the problem of being “program rich but space poor.”
The panel also touched base on how the university is making efforts to build and operate structures in a sustainable and environment-friendly manner. For example, the admissions building saves its rainwater so that it can be later used by the landscape crew.
“Go to our website if you have ideas for us,” Boschini said. “You (the students) are the ones living among them (the buildings).”
Boschini said the student town hall meetings serve an important purpose because it gives him and other faculty members the opportunity to answer questions and hear input from students that they might otherwise not have.
“Anything they come with I’m happy to discuss,” Boschini said. “We do one for students and one for staff each semester.”