When it was all said and done, Tarleton State University fared better than expected, thanks to the university’s growth and commitment to student success.

Last week, Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation that provided a net operating general revenue increase of just more than $4 million for the university and $10 million to replace storm-damaged buildings at the Tarleton Agricultural Center.

It would not have been possible without the help and support of a lot of people—people, like many of you, who took time to speak up in favor of maintaining funding during the legislative session.

Sen. Craig Estes and Reps. J.D. Sheffield, DeWayne Burns, Charlie Geren and Craig Goldman played major roles in helping us obtain this much needed funding, and Chancellor John Sharp and The Texas A&M University System leadership went into the 2017 legislative session fully understanding the needs that come with enrollment growth and the value of replacing buildings at the university’s Agricultural Center.

In fact, our continued enrollment growth—up almost 12 percent since the Texas Legislature met in 2015—is a major reason we fared better than most public universities. 

Our enrollment growth is staggering when you consider that we started with fewer than 100 students. Now, students are coming from all over the state and from around the globe. We are fast on our way to realizing our vision to become the premier student-focused university in Texas and beyond.

The increase in net operating general revenue will help support our growth, providing funds for additional faculty and staff. It is critical, during this time of growth, to continue to provide the highly qualified teachers in our classrooms and the support team—the advisers, the financial aid officers, the housing staff and so many others—who keep the focus on our students and their experience, both academically and in their personal growth as leaders and adults.

The $10 million, one-time state appropriation to replace buildings at the Agricultural Center is important. The facilities destroyed by the tornado reduced our ability to provide the high-quality, hands-on education that earned us a reputation for some of the best agricultural and environmental sciences programs in the nation.

The newly approved funding will provide an Animal Science Center (for cattle, sheep and goats) and an Agronomy/Horticulture Center.

In addition to a variety of labs, the Animal Science Center will include a working/sorting area, two arenas, and calving, lambing and kidding pens.

The new Agronomy/Horticulture Center will be home to labs, classrooms, greenhouses and a retail space—all under one roof. Community members will be able to buy ornamental horticultural products, fresh produce and meat produced at the Tarleton Agricultural Center.

These buildings will create a transformational improvement in our agricultural programs.

We at Tarleton, and A&M System leaders, were concerned about the 2017 state budget. In the early days of the legislative session, drastic cuts were proposed that could have been catastrophic for education, with some schools poised to lose more than half their state funding.

Fortunately, that did not happen. And Tarleton came out on top.

That’s because we enjoy the strong support of our alumni, friends, faculty, staff, students, legislative officials and A&M System leaders. When you bleed purple, it shows.

Thanks to all who do. 

Dr. Dottavio became Tarleton State University’s 15th president in 2008 and has guided the school through a period of unprecedented growth with an enrollment of more than 13,500 students.