By Alicia Reynolds
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Towson University President Kim E. Schatzel on Thursday outlined eight priorities that she believes will make Maryland’s second largest university become more integrate with the Baltimore region as it helps its students succeed in the future.
In a speech to an estimated 350 people at Stephens Hall Theatre, Schatzel said that while some of her priorities have already been accomplished, there are still some that are in the works and could take three to seven years to implement.
Schatzel said the school will conduct what she has been calling an “identity audit” in which university officials determine what members of the Towson community believe are the school’s strengths and weaknesses – then use that information to identify ways the institution can distinguish itself. The audit is scheduled to be completed in December.
The president said she also hopes the school can partner with businesses, community associations and other institutions in the greater Baltimore area to create a more vibrant arts and cultural community.
She said this will create a thriving and competitive economy, support neighborhoods to help them grow stronger and sustainable, give resources to promote lifelong health and well-being, and provide a high-quality and equitable education.
She said there is a need to make Towson more of a distinguished and recognized school in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
Building cultural philanthropy is also important, she said, so that more financial aid can be given to Towson students. She said she wants to help students of different backgrounds so they are able to pay for college.
“We must be able to raise money to have Towson thrive,” Schatzel said. “It is time to call on our alumni to help us.”
Schatzel said she also wants to make Towson a more diverse and inclusive campus. Schatzel highlighted this priority with updates from #OccupyTowson, a sit-in that took place last fall that had students demand what they would like to see changed when it comes to racial diversity and bias on campus.
She said a committee of students and teachers created a website (www.towson.edu/diversityprogress) this summer that is designed track the progress of Towson’s diversity. To do this, she called for campus forums to discuss diversity and what needs to be changed when it comes to accepting people of all races.
She took note of a racial incident that occurred at the beginning of this semester, when a student said she was called a racial slur on Sept. 29 by a white student during a disagreement over a parking space. Schatzel said she is aware that there are still racial issues on campus and it will take time to change people’s perspectives.
Schatzel said she also wants to create a world-class, lifelong career center that supports students in their careers. The center would give guidance and guidelines for Towson in aiding a student’s success. The center would include professionals that are specialized in that student’s career and the faculty of the career center would help students network to achieve success outside of Towson.
Schatzel, who is the school’s 14th president, said she was also wants to create a world-class faculty development center. It would include new equipment, more technology and seminars to make a better faculty for the students, she said.
Schatzel said another priority is what she called Tiger Way, a transfer/international student research intiative. It is designed to help meet the unique needs of transfer and international students.
She said Towson welcomed 5,700 new students this year and there has been an increase in diversity on campus. Despite a few issues that need to be worked on, she said she could not be happier to be the president of Towson.
She said students, faculty and other employees of the school can visit www.towson.edu/priorities to keep track of Towson’s progress is meeting the president’s priorities.
“Our time, faculty, students, and alumni is now,” Schatzel said. “We need to make Towson University a greater university and look toward greater things ahead.”