I have led this remarkable College since Spring 2020, at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, and I remain amazed by the perseverance of our faculty and staff throughout this time. So much about the world, higher education, and daily life seems to have changed, but the resilience of the human spirit has remained a steady anchor. The past two and half years have been challenging for many of us, but the commitment to our College that many of you have shown makes me proud to lead this College.
As we have entered a new academic year, I get the sense that we are approaching a kind of “new normal” now that the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed in its development and manageability. Yet, I find that students still enroll in courses to complete the academic business programs that will assist in progressing their life and career goals.
I find that faculty are still engaged in assisting learners on their journey, still engaged in their intellectual contributions, and still serving the community in ways that maintain our collective quality of operations. I also find that our community and public spaces still engage in vibrant economic and civic activity that provides the laboratory for business education.
In contemplating pursuing a “new normal,” I find that the concept of “normal” belies the uncommon excellence of the Engler College of Business. Our remarkable faculty and staff are judicious caretakers of academic programs in Business that continue to be broadly recognized nationally and regionally.
Our graduate business programs have maintained impressive rankings, especially gratifying given increasing competition in this area. Our graduate programs provide students, who are often working professionals, with an affordable, first-class graduate business education, and our ranking performance reflect the hard work of our dedicated staff, accomplished faculty, and talented students.
The Engler naming gift continues to be a fundamental resource that facilitates the College’s distinct achievements and excellence. Capitalizing on the Engler College of Business’ inherent strengths is significantly enhanced by the Engler naming gift in a manner that allows for reinvestment in students, faculty, and the core educational mission of the College.
At a time when communities are uniting and re-engaging, the Engler College of Business is also working to renew and reinvigorate its community. In an era of digitalization, it is important to remember that people are at the core of any community where our association strengthens our bonds. I am pleased to share examples of community engagement activities and initiatives underway this fall.
First, we kicked off the year with Buff Branding, which focuses on welcoming the incoming freshman class. Engler College of Business faculty and staff hosted a wonderful picnic and games event under the Hayward Spirit Clock Tower, setting an easy-going and festive mood for the academic year. The College followed this with its own Picnic event focused on faculty, staff, and their families. The event featured the same picnic theme: food trucks, lawn games, and a waterslide. In the fall semester, we will enjoy several other student, faculty, and staff community-building events such as homecoming, which occurred October 1st, and a visit to Maxwell’s Pumpkin Farm on October 15th to celebrate the fall season.
Our outreach includes reinvigorating strong relationships with employers. We have engaged in facilitating several career promotion activities with Pantex. The Engler College of Business is recasting what should be a long-term approach to assisting Pantex in finding students whose career aspirations align with the needs of this vital employer in the area. We are learning greatly from this experience, and we hope to duplicate this with other employers in the area. We will continue to work with local employers, such as CSI, Golden Spread Electric Cooperative, Amarillo National Bank, and others, to help with internships, recruitment, and ongoing professional development.
Similarly, to attract transfer students, the College has reinvigorated key relationships with local community colleges such as Amarillo College, South Plains College, and Frank Phillips College. These relationships broaden awareness of what WT offers to students who wish to progress to their next education phase. Our focus on being transfer-friendly has paid off such that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board reports that the Engler College of Business is a leader among Texas higher education institutions in accommodation of transfer credits.
Of course, the principal mission and purpose of Engler College of Business is to support the academic programs from which students graduate and earn degrees. The degree is a mark of achievement that is a process of development, growth, and maturation, regardless of what stage of life or career a student comes from as they join us in the Engler College of Business. As we look to the future, it is vital that a digital-ready business student can execute a variety of skills that involve technical insight, business acumen, and leadership of habit, character, and solution orientation to goal setting. Beginning in the 2022-2023 academic year, the Engler College of Business will shape and hone the Engler Edge, a program to achieve these goals in both curricular and co-curricular aspects. I am excited to share more details of this in future issues of this newsletter.
Thank you for your support of the Paul and Virginia Engler College of Business, and as always, I look forward to sharing a successful year with all of you.
Dr. Amjad Abdullat
If you have a story that you would like to be considered for future newsletters, contact Lynsee Bjork.