By Phil Marshall
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Towson University President Kim Schatzel said Thursday that the school will invest $700 million in capital projects over the next seven years, including money for a new science complex that is scheduled to open in 2020.
This is the same amount of money the school had spent on capital projects during the previous 20 years, Schatzel said.
Construction of the science building will begin this fall, and it will be located south of Stephens Hall, Schatzel said.
She said the next project will be the College of Health Professions building, which will be completed by 2023.
“As the state’s largest providers of health profession graduates, our top employers are eagerly awaiting the completion of this project,” Schatzel said during her bi-annual address at Stephens Hall on the Towson campus Thursday afternoon.
Schatzel began her speech with a moment of silence for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and those who are in the path of Irma, a Category 5 hurricane that is expected to hit Florida this weekend.
She said the university is facing several challenges because of new policies implemented by the Trump administration.
For example, she disagreed with how the Trump administration has cut funding for research into climate change and health programs. She was also critical of Trump’s decision to rescind DACA, an Obama-era policy that protected an estimated 800,000 illegal immigrants from deportation. Trump decided this week to end the program in six months and has urged Congress to pass the so-called Dreamers Act to protect these immigrants.
“I want to provide my assurances to the TU community that both this university and the University System of Maryland are working very closely and very hard to advocate for full federal funding in the areas of research, scholarship, creative work and exchange that I described,” Schatzel said.
With 13,800 freshman applicants, an increase of 12 percent since last fall, the morale surrounding the campus’s student body going into the fall 2017 semester is very high, Schatzel said.
Schatzel said the university welcomed almost 2,400 transfer students, which was a 10 percent increase from last fall. The school set a record when it welcomed 6,000 new students overall for the 2017 fall semester, she said.
She said the student population of 22,499 is the highest ever in the school’s history.
“I was pleased that the president placed an emphasis of academic quality,” said Terry Cooney, the dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “Towson needs to focus on elevating its image of academic quality and giving substance to that image.”
With many colleges struggling with their enrollment, “we have quality enrollment growth that is characterized by increased academic preparedness and diversity,” Schatzel said.
Increased enrollment has resulted in academic success for Towson’s athletic teams, she said.
She said that seven of the university’s 19 athletic teams “boast the top academic scores in the Colonial Athletic Conference.” Fourteen of the 19 teams, she said, had the “highest scores” of all of the Division 1 schools in the University System of Maryland.
Academic success resulted in high ratings for Towson on the Forbes list of best colleges, Schatzel said. For the 32nd year in a row, she said, the U.S. New and World Report listed Towson as a top-15 university in the Northeast.
“My takeaway from the president’s address is that she did a nice job highlighting the hard work that our faculty does here at Towson,” said Laurie Mullen, the dean of the College of Education. “A lot of what our faculty does is unnoticed.”
With many exciting projects ahead, some students are taking notice.
“As a returning student to TU, it was pleasantly surprising to see how campus and campus life has changed and as a soon-to-be-graduating senior, it is exciting to hear that the future looks bright and exciting for Towson,” Towson student Jen Lyttle said.
Schatzel concluded her speech by thanking all of her staff and students for making this campus thrive.
“All can do well by doing good in the world,” she said. “Start here. Make Towson a welcoming place. There are great things ahead.”