The Huntsville Item, Huntsville, TX

Local News

March 8, 2011

SHSU welcomes president

HUNTSVILLE — The threat of rain did not dampen the spirits of the crowd as Sam Houston State University formally welcomed Dana L. Gibson as its 13th president during an investiture ceremony held in her honor Tuesday afternoon.

The investiture, not only a celebration for a new president but also one for the university as a whole, took place in Johnson Coliseum with regents, faculty, staff, students, alumni and representatives of government and other institutions of higher education attending.

Charlie Amato, chair of the system’s board of regents and a Sam Houston State alumnus, officially installed Gibson as president, entrusting to her the stewardship of the university and charging her with upholding the laws of Texas and exercising proper diligence in representing the university.

In accepting her task, Gibson talked about the changing face of higher education.

“Just to maintain the current competitiveness of the United States in the world economy…(America) will need to produce 23 million more college graduates in the next 15 years,” she said.

“To assume or expect that traditional bricks and mortar education is the only way to accomplish this goal is shortsighted,” she said.

She went on to talk about the growth of online courses and the increase of online enrollments in both for-profit and non-profit U. S. colleges and universities.

“But the important point is that it’s not ‘either/or’ in terms of online vs. an on-site university,” Gibson said.  “It is ‘both/and.’ More importantly, it’s about the quality, the true rigor of the academic experience for the student, whether that comes online or in a classroom.”

Gibson also discussed the reduced funding that universities are experiencing nationwide and how institutions of higher education are being required to demonstrate more accountability.

“The continuing withdrawal of public support for higher education accompanied by increased demands to ‘prove’ the efficiency of our operations and the quality of our education outcomes is a long-term trend that is on an escalating trajectory,” she said.

“Therefore, we must be more thoughtful and systematic in documenting our performance in order to secure our support from all sources ? public and private,” she said.

She emphasized, however, that the students who go to classes on the SHSU campus have a different experience from the kind students taking online classes have.

“While I am a believer in data driven decisions, providing more transparency and showing more accountability and efficiency to the students and funders of higher education, I also firmly believe that a student’s education experience should and does encompass far more than just what the metrics can capture,” she said.

“Being a fully participating student at Sam Houston State gives you something you cannot find online.  As we say, when you come to Sam Houston, you can feel it,” she said.

Gibson concluded her speech by laying out her agenda.

“Sam Houston State University will continue its path of service for the citizens of Texas, the nation and the globe ? and maybe with a broader definition of our student population,” she said.

“We will continue to do this in an effective and efficient manner, fully documenting our outcomes to demonstrate our success and the value of the educational experience here at this university.

“But let there be no doubt that what we do here is about people, not numbers,” she said.

“I pledge that we will continue with a passion for the educational process and an ongoing commitment to the discovery of knowledge and engagement with the students we serve,” she said.

Following Gibson’s speech, TSUS Regent Trisha Pollard presented a new presidential medallion to Gibson.  The medallion features the university seal from a chain. Directly above the seal is a bronze plate engraved with Gibson’s name and “2010,” the year she became president. Leading to the medallion on the chain are small, individual plates engraved with the names of Sam Houston State University’s previous 12 presidents and the years they served.

Pollard, and her husband Randy — both 1974 graduates of SHSU — provided funding for the new medallion.

Representatives from the student, staff, faculty, alumni and local communities formally greeted Gibson and welcome her to her position.

The SHSU Trumpeters, SHSU Orchestra, and SHSU Chorale, conducted by David Cole, provided music for the ceremony.

Brian McCall, chancellor of the Texas State University System, served as master of ceremonies.

Other participants included SHSU Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs David Payne, President Emeritus Bobby Marks, President Emeritus James Gaertner and song leader James Franklin.

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