Faculty Senate discusses going digital with course evaluations

University officials are advocating for end-of-course evaluations to be moved online.

For the past five years, students have filled out the end-of-course evaluations on physical Scantrons. However, certain members of the Texas State University Faculty Senate are pushing for the biannual evaluations to be done online and no longer with pencil and paper, said Susan Weill, associate professor of the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

“I am pushing for the change in format of evaluation forms,” Weill said. “I am on the faculty senate, and I am advocating for it. I just think it’s the way of the future and we ought to do it.”

Council to make final decision regarding downtown meters


Those who frequent downtown San Marcos may see new parking meters pop up after a final decision comes from city council in the coming months.

Officials introduced the proposal for parking meters on Nov. 6, 2013 after discussing current issues with downtown parking. The proposal was since updated in July of this year. Councilmembers are waiting on a deal from the planning staff behind the new meters before making a final decision. Costs for the meters and the project have yet to be determined.

More conversation needs to take place in order to develop a more strategic plan and see what the oversight committee has to say about the parking management district, said Councilwoman Lisa Prewitt, Place 1. 

Commissioners debating campaign signage at polls

Hays County Commissioner Ray Whisenant, Precinct 4, proposed Sept. 25 the number of signs posted by candidates at county polling places be limited during the upcoming campaign season.

The regulation was not passed and is currently being reviewed by a group of officials including Commissioner Whisenant, Commissioner Debbie Ingalsbe, Precinct 1, General Counsel for the Commissioners Court Mark Kennedy, County Elections Administrator Joyce Cowan and members from all three Hays political parties. The group held its first meeting on Sept. 25 and will reconvene in November.

Officials to use strategic growth plan with freshman enrollment


Although university officials will not cap total undergraduate enrollment, they will use strategic growth to control the number of incoming students.

The goal is to grow while still managing the influx, said Eugene Bourgeois, provost and vice president of Academic Affairs. No actual enrollment number targets exist, but there is an ideal, Bourgeois said. The university must continue to provide resources equally to every student.

Fewer students were admitted this year than last according to the quality of completed applications because the university is growing nearer to capacity and the applicant pool continues to rise, said Michael Heintze, associate vice president for Enrollment Management.

Backyard gardening on rise as large-scale farming suffers

Many large-scale farmers located along the IH-35 corridor have been increasingly affected by the ongoing drought over the past fifteen years, sometimes unable to yield their quotas during harvest season.

The ongoing drought has strained farmers’ dependence on rainwater to grow crops, thus causing food prices to rise. While the prominence of large-scale farming is diminishing, a new subculture of backyard farming is emerging in San Marcos.

J.W. Ottmers, owner of Oma and Opa’s Farms, began farming in 1968 and currently grows 18 different crops on his five acres of land.

Lack of department chair term limit causes concern

The lack of limit on the number of years department chairs can serve at Texas State has some questioning the value of the system.

Each department in the university has a chair who is a faculty member assigned by the dean to manage classes and faculty. The length of time these members have held their positions varies greatly, with some keeping their jobs as long as 25 years, said Dr. Cynthia Opheim, associate provost of Academic Affairs.

“We have no term limits on chairs, so we can have chairs in place for as little as three years, or sometimes it’s 25 years or longer,” Opheim said.

TSUS universities required to provide Title IX training

As part of the recent changes to the university's sexual misconduct policy, incoming students are required to participate in an online program created called Campus Clarity. 

All universities under the Texas State University System are now required to provide training related to Title IX issues to students and faculty, said Gilda Garcia, chief diversity officer and director of equity and access. The online program introduces new students to the consequences of sexual misconduct and drug and alcohol use in a social setting.

The Division of Student Affairs purchased the program for $26,000, said Joanne Smith, vice president for Student Affairs.

ALERRT partners with Wal-Mart to offer active shooter safety training

A Texas State program has partnered with Wal-Mart to offer associates information on what to do if an active shooting breaks out in the workplace.

Last week, officials at the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center at the university announced their partnership with Wal-Mart to develop educational tools to inform employees how to react in an active shooter situation.

The announcement comes in the wake of a recently-released FBI report that demonstrates the need “for civilians to be engaged in discussions and training on decisions they’d have to make in an active shooter situation,” said Special Agent Katherine Schweit, head of the FBI’s active shooter initiative team, in the report.

Professor offers new sociological perspective on rock 'n' roll

In his award-winning book, sociology professor Joseph Kotarba looks at the way rock and roll is embedded in people’s lives.

Kotarba won the Charles Horton Cooley Award for Outstanding book for his work “Baby Boomer Rock ‘n’ Roll Fans.”

The Charles Horton Cooley Award is given annually by the Society for the Study of Symbolic Interaction (SSSI). The award is used to honor an author for a book that represents an important contribution to the perspective of symbolic interaction. The committee considered a range of outstanding books and articles, demonstrating the diversity and creativity of scholars working in the interactionist perspective.

Student Center mechanical system improvements to total $15-18 million


Before the year is over, $15 to 18 million worth of mechanical system improvements will be made to the LBJ Student Center to bring the building up to code.

The improvements will mostly be unseen to students but include making sure the lighting systems are not fire hazards and putting in new smoke alarms, said Jack Rahmann, LBJ Student Center director.

Rahmann said he is currently working in conjunction with other university officials to find an architectural firm to collaborate with. He hopes they will create a concept to renovate and expand the LBJ center for students in the years to come. These plans will require a slight increase in the student center fee, but the amount that will be raised will remain unknown until the logistics of the project are worked out.


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