President Martin addresses faculty, students, staff in biannual report

Victoria Cavazos & Jacob Sanchez

In his biannual report, President George E. Martin spoke about factors that will affect St. Edward’s University including employee living wages increasing, campus renovations and the university’s recent Fulbright awards.

Martin explained that giving university employees a living wage is part of St. Edward’s social justice mission, something he highlighted at the Oct. 7 meeting. 

The university is able to do this thanks to this year’s 873 freshmen — the largest class in SEU history.

The retention rate from Fall 2014 to Spring 2015 was 95.9 percent — the highest the university has seen in seven years.

For the last 16 years, tuition has increased 8.5 percent annually. 

This year was the first year to see a 6 percent tuition increase.

With more money coming into the university thanks to higher attendance and the university’s new spending plan, Investing for our Future, staff and faculty will receive a 3 percent increase in salary. 

St. Edward’s is working on a plan that will ensure that employees have a living wage of at least $15 an hour.

Renovations are set to begin in Holy Cross Hall and Main Building, Martin said. Once Holy Cross and Main are completed, Andre Hall will be next.

“We’ll be pretty busy for the next couple of years,” Martin said. “We will be able to have more people in Holy Cross Hall than we ever have.”

More immediately, the biggest addition to campus will be the new residence hall that will house 450 students. The hall will cost an estimated $38 million.

“[It’s] no longer the case” that students can afford to live off campus because of the city’s higher cost of living, Martin said. “We hope that [the residence hall] will let us offer very nice housing.”

“This is just the first step. If you look at older buildings we will need to go to a multi-year plan,” said Martin.

Two current buildings received accolades from Austin Energy. Austin Councilman Sabino “Pio” Renteria awarded the John Brooks Williams Natural Science Center-South and University Federal Credit Union Alumni Gym the Austin Energy Green Building Award. Both buildings have a three star rating from Austin Energy.

“The council member is going to be our new best friend,” Martin joked to the audience.

Martin highlighted several students during his speech, such as the university’s first Truman Scholar senior Victoria Ochoa.

He also highlighted this year’s 10 Fulbright Fellowships, one of which is St. Edward’s second Fulbright Full Research Scholar award.

“Last year, [the University of Texas at Austin] won 10 Fulbright awards,” the President said, “[And] they are larger than us.”

Martin announced that the university is right on its fundraising goal of $100 million. So far, St. Edward’s has raised $81 million.