Writers note: This is what I believe to be the top ten great ideas Troy has had and implemented in the last 20 (or so) years. I believe these have changed what we as students think of Troy University today and what future graduates will think of Troy in the future. These ideas were selected for their monetary impact, cultural impact and educational impact and in most cases all three.
Top 10 things Troy has done for itself in the last 20 years.
1) Changing from Troy State to Troy University.
This move saved Alabama taxpayers $16 million over a decade by uniting Troy University under one banner. How you ask? Well, in a Jan. 14 letter to the editor to the Anniston Star Jack Hawkins Jr. explains how.
“The unification plan, which was announced formally in 2005, is the most dramatic demonstration of stewardship and elimination of waste and duplication in the history of Alabama higher education,” he wrote. “Example: two university presidencies with concomitant staffs were abolished through consolidation.”
But it doesn’t stop there, Hawkins said.
“The re-invention of Troy University saved Alabama taxpayers some $16 million over a decade as we eliminated duplication in administrative and academic matters. However, the most important dimension of this move is the establishment of one curriculum that allows the student an opportunity to enroll with Troy University in one part of the world, finish in another and earn a Troy University degree without the loss of academic credit.”
In 1989 Jack Hawkins Jr. laid the groundwork for unification and conducted the Troy Train from cow college to global juggernaut. Chancellor Hawkins said the unification of Troy is the fulfillment of a pledge he made at his inauguration in 1989, when he said in the 21st Century Troy University would not be classified simply as a regional university, but as a worldwide institution serving a “global village.” President emeritus of Towson (Md.) University and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education Jim Fisher claimed that: “Troy’s unification (is) the most remarkable university transformation in America” and “signals the new Troy University, a single university, both more efficient and effective, the second largest university in Alabama,” Fisher said. Although 350 faculty members served on committees and work groups to handle the nitty-gritty work in the trenches, we gotta give Hawkins his credit.
Captaining a 15 year vision realized + millions of dollars saved in taxpayer money + increasing revenue while saving money = perfect candidate for governor. That’s a fact, Jack.
2) Moody’s revision of Troy’s credit rating.
You know how all these fancy Greco-Roman buildings with the crazy-cool cupolas came from?
Thank Moody’s Investor Services for that one (Moody’s is one of the three big credit rating companies and gives credit ratings to institutions and countries to allow them to borrow money. By having our rating upgraded we were allowed to borrow more money because the rating stamps us as an institution with a slim chance of defaulting on our loans).
We received an A1 rating – the third-highest long-term bond rating available by Moody’s – in 2007. The median rating for an institution like Troy is A2. So basically, Troy’s mom threw the A1 rating up on the fridge and left it there to shine for all to view, hence the cupolas.
The ratings rank from AAA to C. The fact that Troy has the same credit rating of India, is higher than Mexico and is catching up to Great Britain is great news for the future.
3) Rosa Parks Museum
Being from Montgomery I can’t tell you how big of a move this was when Troy ate up this filet mignon of a real estate deal in downtown Montgomery. On a cold December morning Rosa Parks started a process that helped to crumble the Jim Crow laws that Alabama adopted after the Civil War. According to thehenryford.org, “she was arrested and convicted of violating the laws of segregation … (she) appealed her conviction and thus formally challenged the legality of segregation. At the same time, local civil rights activists initiated a boycott of the Montgomery bus system. In cities across the South, segregated bus companies were daily reminders of the inequities of American society. Since African Americans made up about 75 percent of the riders in Montgomery, the boycott posed a serious economic threat to the company and a social threat to white rule in the city.”
When Troy bought this in 2000 they helped spur a massive renovation. The Montgomery Biscuits relocated to downtown Montgomery in 2004 and the Marriot convention center soon followed, along with the Alley Project. They were in downtown Montgomery before being in downtown Montgomery was cool. Troy has a penchant for being ahead of its time and investing intelligently. This is the perfect example.
4) Going division one in football
When I interviewed our legendary head football coach Larry Blakeney he said that since going to the highest level of football Troy has tripled in size (3,800 students in 1989 to 7,000 currently). While not all of this is due to the football program we all know that in the South, especially Alabama, football is king. After all, how many Alabama fans do you know that actually attended a class in Tuscaloosa?
Out of all the people I’ve met outside of the state of Alabama, the only people who knew what Troy was were the people who saw us wipe the floor with Rice and Ohio. For this we give big-ups to our boys in maroon (I know we wear cardinal, but it looks maroon, for real). Keep it up, fellas. I want us to go to a bowl game again.
5 – Development of E-Troy and restructuring of global campus
As previously stated, Troy does things before anyone ever thinks of them. We’re like the Nikola Tesla of the education game: all the ideas and none of the credit. E-Troy was (and still is) as popular as filing with H&R Block for tax season. You can’t argue with greatness, so we’ll shut up.
As previously reported by The Tropolitan this semester, Lance Tatum hulked out and power bombed mathematics from the top turnbuckle and had Archimedes and Euclid both crying for mercy when he trimmed $10 million from the global campus system. You know what $10 million can buy? That’s right, a death ray on eBay.
6 – Car Tags
With almost $2 million gained from car tags who can argue with this selection? We went from barely 1,000 tags in 2004 to more than 7,000 currently. The great part about the entire thing is that it is a revenue source that goes right back to the students. This money is used as a revenue stream for scholarships. Instead of throwing rocks to kill birds, my man T-Roy said “screw this” and opted for the shotgun. We’ve skyrocketed to the top three in sheer number of car tags behind ‘Bama and Auburn. So being the intelligent individual you are, you’ll stop investing in blue, orange, crimson and white tags and get down with the cardinal craze. But seriously, stop buying other schools car tags. It’s embarrassing for those of us who actually care about our school.
7 – Building Beyond Boundaries Capital Campaign
Along with the Troy Shield Society – which allows for members to gift greenbacks to the university to be spent by said members specifications – this was major news last semester. According to a press release issued this time last year, the campaign raised $167 million through gifts and donations. According to the man with the plan John Schmidt, to get almost 80 percent of your funding goal in a few short years doesn’t happen often. This was only the second capital campaign we’ve had. The last one got north of $20 million in 2000. We went from cashing athlete checks to cashing franchise checks in a decade. Even though Emil Jones dropped the game-winning shot in the inaugural Trojan Arena game I think we know who the real Sultan of Swoosh is. The most interesting thing that is being done with the money is heavy investment in the other Alabama campuses. The Coleman Group, one of Alabama’s top 500 companies, contributed hefty sums of coin for the Dothan campus. The Phenix City campus will also see major improvements. Of course, Troy campus will see some money (look at the Manley Johnson Center for Political Economy) to further establish itself as a force to be reckoned within the education world.
8 – International focus of campus
I can’t tell you how great this is. From a dollars and cents perspective, international students contribute tens of millions of dollars to the Troy economy. With a town of 15,000 people that’s a lot. At any given time you can hear more than 60 languages being spoken. If Troy were a dessert it would be my grandmother’s sweet potato casserole: tasty, layered, and not really a dessert. If Alex Trebek ever asks you about Kyrgyzstan I’ve got a hint for you: the capitol is Bishkek.
9 – Improvement of the façade and overall look of campus
Like going division one in football, this one is a little hard to explain from a monetary standpoint. To me, this is an obvious choice. Does anyone reading this miss the raw sewage smell of old SAGA? If so I think you’re in the wrong place. Charles Henderson is on the other side of the road, amigo. Competing with other universities is often a matter of two things: the education you receive and the buildings in which you receive them. Troy is taking a step in the right direction by investing in the look of campus.
10 – Marketing as a military friendly university.
Troy has a huge military present. At one time the eArmyU program enrolled 8,500 students in the Troy system. That program has since been cut but the desire to serve members of our armed forces hasn’t. Most, if not all, of our locations throughout the world are there solely to serve military members. But you have to think, Chancellor Hawkins is a former Marine and brought a few of his buddies with him to whip Troy into the shape it is in now. Mrs. Hawkins led the Troy for Troops charge in 2006 as an effort to identify and thank current students, alumni, faculty or staff members – or members of their immediate families – who are on active military duty. The ongoing project has included the shipment of care packages and “Troy for Troops” t-shirts to members of the armed services serving in combat zones.
To me, Troy is synonymous with the military, and the military is synonymous with successful efficiency.
These didn’t quite make the list, but higher admission standards and great faculty recruitment are also some of the best things Troy has done for itself. These two things right here insure that the value of our degree will be enhanced with every graduating class.