The president of West Texas A&M University (WTAMU) continues his high school tour around the Panhandle, encouraging students to consider higher education and cost effective school options.
This five month tour will take President Dr. Walter Wendler to more than 60 Panhandle towns.
At each school, he speaks with students and community leaders about the best college options and how WT's programs are exceeding expectations.
"My purpose in these tours is to make sure that we touch base with the students in the top 26 counties of Texas," said Dr. Wendler. "To say that we want them, to let them know that we care about them may seem trite but we do."
Dr. Wendler said during his first month of tours he has noticed two top topics of interest: students and parents wanting to find a college close to home and the cost of tuition.
"At WT we are very committed to keeping our costs low," said Dr. Wendler. "Our cost per full time student going to WT in 2015, the Higher Education Coordinating Board says our costs were the absolute lowest in the state. So, there is a sense of stewardship throughout these communities in the Panhandle and we are trying to simulate that same sense of stewardship here at WT."
To guide students to higher education, WTAMU is now partnering with four Panhandle community colleges to help students gain an associate's degree before heading straight to the university. There are hopes this partnership will help students transfer credits easily to WT, which can reduce the cost of tuition. Right now, tuition for a full time student at WT is right around $16,000 a year.
"I would really like to see us become a community college friendly senior institution in the state of Texas," said Dr. Wendler. "I would like to see a large percentage of our students that graduate with a bachelor's degree from WT also have an associate's degree."
The university's programs have also been of interest.
A recent budget bill proposed in the Texas Senate could hurt funding for some of the university's growing programs. The university could lose about $12 million of funding for programs like cattle cloning, agriculture and electrical engineering, but is passed it is unlikely the bill will take all funding away.
If you would like to keep track of Dr. Wendler's tour dates or if you want to learn more about the university's programs, visit WT's website.
2/16 Fort Elliott @ 6 p.m.
2/27 Spearman @ 9:45 a.m.
2/27 Lefors @ 1:30 p.m.
2/28 Randall @ 9:30 a.m.
2/28 Caprock @ 1:30 p.m.
2/28 Friona @ 6 p.m.