Heart and Soul

Reflections from WT Podcast

President Wendler and host Randy Ray sit down with a member of the WT family once a month for a podcast titled Reflections from WT. From student leadership to the arts and sciences, Dr. Wendler, Ray and a featured guest share their own insights, experiences and reflections on the spirit of WT.

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Episode Transcripts

Men of Honor Transcript
Director of Admissions Jeff Baylor Transcript
Dean of Engineering Dr. Emily Hunt Transcript
Transfer and Family Orientation Coordinator Miguel Soto Transcript
Art History Professor Dr. Amy Von Lintel Transcript
Student Body President Chandler Huddleston Transcript
Head Football Coach Hunter Hughes Transcript


Dr. Wendler's Blog

President Wendler publishes a weekly blog with themes and reflections on higher education. Since beginning in 2007, he has contributed to a collection of more than 400 articles and counting. He has been published in American Association of State Colleges and Universities and Inside Higher Ed. His most recent posts can be found below.


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Organizational Trust

Trust is confidence—the reliance on the integrity, strength, ability and security of a person or thing. It enables and creates expectations and hope. Universities that don’t exhibit trust in their own people, the potential students they recruit and the various public and private organizations that support them eventually fail. Recent examples of chicanery regarding admissions at some of the best universities in America cause cynicism. Disingenuousness is a denigrating form of pay to not play. More vexing, the cloud of skepticism casts shadows on all. Universities all over America are requesting verification of student athletes who have been granted scholarships to confirm that those scholarships have actually gone to student athletes. Read More


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The Real Problem with Student Debt

While West Texas A&M University and its generational plan, WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World, are the basis for these reflections, the thoughts have value in many settings. Healthy organizations thrive on integrity and transparency.

Since the White House announced its plan to address student debt on March 11, 2019, commentaries, both pro and con, are endless. However, personal responsibility is rarely, if ever, mentioned. The creators of student debt—students, lenders, officials (elected and appointed) and universities—are co-contributors to the crisis. Blame is omnipresent, but that does not liberate the student’s personal responsibility for assuming debt or the university’s complicity in allowing it. Transparency trumps everything. Read More

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Health Through Vision

In the coming months, means to develop healthier, stronger organizations will be examined. While West Texas A&M University and WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World are the basis for these reflections, the thoughts may have value in many settings.

Principles that guide an effective vision are the result of a healthy organizational culture. Strong organizations become even stronger when there are openly shared, commonly held, deeply important, and widely applicable principles at work in every corner of the enterprise. This holds true for the U.S. military as well as the corner grocery store. Read More

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Reaching a Region on Handshakes

The majority of college recruiting in the United States is focused on urban and suburban high schools. On the surface, given that approximately 80% of the U.S. population resides in metropolitan regions, it seems a plausible approach. However, the 20% of the rural residents of our state and nation likewise warrant attention from good universities. The argument against rural recruiting is simply that small populations provide little return on recruiting investment. Read More

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Open Letter to High School Class of 2019

The third Maxim of WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World, “Build Undergraduate Academic Excellence,” requires clear-headed transparency. The plan expresses it this way: “The quality of the student body, the quality of teaching and advising available to students and the quality of the faculty who work with undergraduates all contribute to academic excellence.” Read More

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The Key to Academic Success—For Student and Institution

U.S. News & World Report does not rank the quality of academic advising. It is unlikely that any ranking system does. Outcomes easily measured are most frequently used in rankings. Unfortunately, the quality of advising is neither accounted for or easily measured. Read More

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Serving Locally—Pride of Place

The Texas Panhandle appreciates hard work, persistence and commitment to family and community. This value system should never be taken for granted. It oozes from the ground and sprinkles from the sky. Those who inhabit the space between live it. As we complete our plan, WT 125 – From the Panhandle to the World, I have reflected on how a regional university serves its home. WT does not wish to be like any institution in Texas or anywhere else. We are the Panhandle. Read More

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New Cake, Old Recipe

When Clark Kerr unveiled Master Plan for Higher Education in California in 1960, it was heralded as a stroke of genius. And it was. Kerr went to the capitol in Sacramento requesting unparalleled financial support to build scientific prowess. He won the arguments, in part, because California Community Colleges were open to “any student capable of benefiting from instruction”—essentially free. University of California campuses and California State University schools were required to maintain a lower-division to upper-division student ratio of 40:60, creating a three-tiered layer cake (Community Colleges, Cal State Schools, and UC campuses) that leaned towards community college transfers like the famous tower in Pisa. And, the UC campuses helped attain JFK’s vision to put a “…man on the moon before the end of the decade.” Read More

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Coordination of Higher Education in Texas

Raymund Paredes, the Commissioner of the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB), recently announced his resignation, effective August 31, 2019. This announcement caused me to reflect on the complexity of the enterprise and the importance of the coordination among the many members if higher education is to effectively serve the aspirations of students, families and taxpayers. Read More

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WTAMU 2019—A Look Ahead

WTAMU was busy last year, and we look ahead in 2019 with great anticipation. In order to understand our future, it is worthwhile to reflect on our past.

The Agricultural Sciences Complex opened on campus, consisting of the Happy State Bank Academic and Research Building, Caviness Meat Science and Innovation Center, Piehl-Schaeffer Pavilion and Bain Event Center. In the heart of downtown Amarillo, the Harrington Academic Hall West Texas A&M University Amarillo Center started an evolving era in the life of our university within a new building. Collectively these facilities mark a university moving forward. We also welcomed Dr. Kevin Pond from Colorado State University as the new dean of the Paul Engler College of Agriculture and Natural Sciences and Dr. Todd Rasberry as the new vice president for Philanthropy and Alumni Relations. Read More

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A University and a Way Forward

Universities, like all human organizations, need a passion for purpose coupled to a plan for the future. Without such a commitment, reactionary leadership and management follows. Such passion for purpose and a future grows from an institution’s people, its purpose and its place. At West Texas A&M University we have recently completed a long-range plan called WT 125: From the Panhandle to the World. The process was complex. It included nearly 300 people. Committees, theme groups and white paper authors labored diligently. Some might say such a collage of people is all form and no substance, but they would be wrong. The ideas propagated in this work will leverage the University forward with a well-conceived, carefully deliberated sense of service and corporate self. Such work will distinguish West Texas A&M University. Read More

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Changing Times

As we begin 2019 anyone involved in higher education, student or family member, spouse or friend, high school principal or daycare worker, instructor or president, knows things are changing at universities. Whether a public or private, for-profit or not-for-profit, online or on-campus, universities are in flux. And this broth of changing forces affects every aspect of university mission: Service to students, relationships with faculty, responses to oversight bodies, and our notions of accountability are all changing. Read More

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Jesus Christ responded to a question from a student regarding the greatest commandment in the Law: “And he said to him, ’You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.’ ” Saint Paul expounded on Christ’s profoundly simple answer unequivocally when describing human aspiration in relationship to God’s grace: “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” Read More

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Looking for a University? Four Suggestions

As the new year begins, scores of students and their families will make choices about where to study next fall. Affordability, location and degree offerings should be serious considerations. No one should ever say, “It is worth it no matter the cost.” That’s propaganda. There are global considerations beyond how much, where and what that every student and family should be aware of. Four follow. Read More

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Human Potential

Without trappings, the ultimate purpose of a university education is to enhance human potential. While wrapping up a high school visit in Amarillo, Texas, I asked the audience of students and parents if anyone had any questions. A young man sitting towards the back of the room with our head football coach asked me how West Texas A&M University might make him a better man. I found out later he was being recruited. This modern day “Rocky” (not his real name) said he wanted to be a good provider for his future family, a good husband and a good father. He wanted to know how the University might help him in attaining those goals. I visited many high schools and heard many questions from students, teachers, administrators and families. No question moved me the way Rocky’s did. In the milliseconds between my hearing the question and providing an answer, a number of thoughts crossed my mind. Read More

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Why U.S. Universities Are Good

American universities are the best in the world. This is widely recognized by experts in higher education from every nation. Fifteen of the world’s top 20 universities worldwide are in the United States. Assessment and ranking systems in the U.S., the U.K., China, India and Japan confirm this standing led by the Times Higher Education of London, global authorities on the subject.

There is rising disquiet regarding America’s ability to remain preeminent. A 2014 New York Times Upshot analysis provides a voice of consternation. Nevertheless, here is what makes U.S. higher education the envy of the world. Read More

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