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Section 2: SACS Core Requirement
The institution has a clearly defined, comprehensive, and published missions statement that is specific to the institution and appropriate for higher education. The mission addresses teaching and learning and, where applicable, research and public service. (Institutional Mission)
The mission statement for Western Texas College (WTC) presents the institution’s philosophy and over-arching goals for serving both the needs of the local community it represents, students in its 10-county state-assigned service area, and, through its distance learning programs, the larger worldwide community of learners. In keeping with Goal 3 of the mission statement, the College seeks to provide distance education programs that equal the quality of instruction on campus. A study of enrollment trends over the past eight years reported by the Dean of Institutional Research and Technology indicates the College’s continuing involvement with ITV, Internet, and Virtual College of Texas classes. As one example, in the fall1998 semester, WTC enrolled 5 students in ITV classes. The number enrolled in ITV classes for the fall semester 2006 was 429, or 21% of the total student headcount. (Complete enrollment trends are shown in the Enrollment Comparison document prepared as part of that study.) As is noted in the review of Comprehensive Standard 3.4.12, WTC provides numerous ITV courses to high schools as far as 200+ miles away, and it is currently the second-largest provider of on-line courses taught through the Virtual College of Texas. The College is situated in a state-designated 9,000-square-mile service area comprised of 10 counties with a total population of fewer than 85,000 persons. WTC primarily serves an ethnically diverse population in a rural area of west Texas. To better respond to the diversity represented in its service area, the College applied for and was awarded a Title V grant on October 1, 2005 in order to better serve a Hispanic intensive population.
The institution’s mission statement is reviewed every three years or as needed by a committee with broad representation and further reviewed and approved by the Board of Trustees. Recent reviews occurred on April 14, 2003 and November 14, 2005. (LINK TO BOARD MINUTES: A-3) Additionally, the mission statement was reviewed and adjusted in 2006 as part of the review process for the Commission of Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools in order to clarify language and modify an unclear goal. The most recent revision of the mission statement is the official version and supercedes all prior printed versions. It is published as Board Policy 5000 in the Institutional Policy Manual as well as on the Western Texas College web site, and it will be included in the 2007-2008 editions of the Western Texas College Catalog and Student Handbook, both of which will be issued in Spring 2007.
The mission statement for WTC states that the college will provide “pre-professional and general education courses leading to the Associate of Arts degree and transfer to four-year colleges and universities and a program of distance learning instruction which is equivalent in quality to main-campus instruction.” These philosophical goals and purposes are supported by a Core Curriculumthat addresses the general education requirements of students in Associate of Arts degree programs. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) establishes guidelines and requirements for colleges to establish approved core curricula. These guidelines are included in a document titled “Core Curriculum: Assumptions and Defining Characteristics,” which is included in the appendix to the Lower-Division Academic Course Guide Manual, pp. 203 – 210. In it, the THECB states guidelines for core curricula, characteristics of basic intellectual competencies in core curricula, and the expected educational outcomes for specific disciplinary areas. WTC carefully observes these THECB guidelines in its Core Curriculum.
The Associate of Arts and the Associate of Arts in Teaching degrees at WTC require completion of 62 semester hours of credit, which includes 46 hours of core requirements taken from nine institutionally-designated areas including the following:
- English composition
- Natural sciences
- Visual/performing arts
- Behavioral sciences
- Computer science
- Health and physical education.
The core curriculum requires that students demonstrate the intellectual competencies of reading, writing, speaking, listening, critical thinking, and computer literacy—all of which are supported by the college’s mission statement.
Students seeking the Associate of Applied Science degree are required to complete a 15-hour general education requirement as well. The general education portion of the A.A.S degree requires that a student must take one course each in fine arts/humanities, social sciences, and natural sciences.
Goals 1 and 2 of the mission statement indicate the College’s commitment to provide associate degrees in both academic and workforce education, and WTC has implemented a retention plan (LINK to WTC Retention Plan) and other measures to increase student success. As is described in the review of Comprehensive Standard 3.3.1, the College has effected changes in its developmental education program and has effected a major change in its first-semester orientation course. Psychology 2315, a course that addresses several aspects of the mission statement, was designed in 2005 and taught for the first time during the fall semester of the same year. All incoming students are required to take this class as it challenges students to think critically about what causes students to ultimately succeed or fail in college. A major emphasis of the course is to boost retention by providing students with more skills in order to ultimately complete their degrees, and in the case of students in the Associate of Arts degree programs, to more efficiently transfer to a four-year college or university.
Another aspect of the College’s mission statement is its inclusion of Goal 9, which provides for promotion of social and cultural growth of the Western Texas College community. A few examples of how the college is working to meet this goal include the following:
- Athletic programs on campus that hold home games that give the community a chance to participate in the support of the programs. The Western Texas College athletic programs include baseball, softball, volleyball, cross country, men’s and women’s basketball, and golf.
- The art department at Western Texas College holds an annual high school art competition each year for area high school students. They also teach a children’s art class in the summer geared toward 3rd graders.
- The Applaud the Arts program brings a variety of cultural programs to the campus and makes them available to the community.
- The Western Texas College drama department to presents a number of public performances in the Fine Arts Theater each semester and invites area high schools to send students to attend special morning performances of each play. Too, the department holds Drama Festivals every spring for area high school drama departments to help them prepare for their one act play competitions.
- Every year the entire Western Texas College campus participates in “The Fall Fest” in which games and prizes are provided for the community and the money raised is donated to United Way.
The most recent and official version, which was adopted in September 2006, is published in Board Policy 5000 and on the College web site. This version supercedes all prior versions, and it will be included in all future editions of the official College publications. To emphasize the importance of the mission statement, it is disseminated in a variety of ways. It is published in the following documents:
- The Institutional Policy Manual as Board Policy # 5000, which is distributed to WTC board members and is also available to faculty, students, and community members through the President’s office.
- The Faculty Handbook, which is distributed to faculty at the beginning of each academic year.
- The Student Handbook, which is available online to all students. The mission statement is included on pages 1-2.
- The Western Texas College Catalog, which is available to faculty, staff, currently enrolled students, potential students, community members, and any other interested person either on-line at www.wtc.edu or in book form. Bound catalogs are included in recruiting packets distributed to students.
Bound catalogs are also available through the admissions office upon request and are available in the counseling office, learning resource center, administration building, and the student center. The catalog is mailed to over 900 high schools, community colleges, and upper division colleges and universities in Texas, the United States and around the world. The students served through the Upward Bound programs are provided with bound copies of the catalog. The TRIO programs provide catalogs to their students upon request.
Evidence of Support:
Board Minutes: April 14, 2003
Board Minutes: November 14, 2005
Board Minutes: September 11, 2006
Board Policy 5000
Enrollment Comparison Chart
Enrollment Trends Memorandum
Institutional Effectiveness Goals 10148
Lower-Division Academic Course Guide Manual (ACGM)
Map of Service Area
Psychology 2315 Syllabus
Title V Grant Criteria
Western Texas College Catalog 2006-2007
WTC Retention Plan
WTC web site