legacy sets high bar
and staff discuss what it will take to fill the shoes
of the provost, who retires in May.
When Provost William Koehler leaves office in May, the
TCU landscape will look different than when he began as
the universitys chief academic officer 24 years
As vice chancellor for academic affairs and then
also provost, Dr. Koehler has played an important part
in raising the academic aspirations and reality of TCU,
religion professor Nadia Lahutsky said.
Koehler joined the faculty as an assistant professor of
chemistry in 1969. He became the vice chancellor for academic
affairs in 1980 and added the title of provost in 1994.
The university has really become a national university
in terms of its ability, he said.
TCUs academic reputation has grown a great deal
during Koehlers tenure, said Becky Roach, who has
been Koehlers assistant since 1980.
In my opinion, his legacy can be summed up in two
words: academic excellence, she said.
Throughout his tenure, Koehler has held various positions
to strengthen, develop and manage athletic programs. The
next provost will probably not be heavily involved in
athletics as Koehler, Lahutsky said.
My impression is that Dr. Koehler does not have
an equal across the country in his ability to hold together
responsibility for the academic and athletic programs,
The university has grown in terms of faculty, staff and
students. The Physical Plant has increased in size and
new buildings have sprung up. Information technology has
increased, and all residence halls have been wired for
high-speed Internet access. Student services have improved,
including the Center for Academic Services, Center for
Teaching Excellence and the Center for Writing. The university
has also developed engineering and computer science departments.
I in no way would take credit for these events,
Koehler said. The important thing is that the university
has done a number of things while I was fortunate enough
to be there.
However, Koehler did not accomplish all of his goals during
his tenure. He said he wishes TCU could have started a
law school, hired more faculty and increased the presence
of graduate programs. These are issues the next provost
may address if he deems it necessary, Koehler said.
Im going to try not to set the agenda for
my successor, he said.
Many faculty and staff members will remember Koehler as
a fair and concerned administrator.
When it comes to Dr. Koehlers management style,
three words come to mind: open, fair and decisive,
said Donna Johnson, Koehlers executive assistant.
Once he has evaluated a situation, he makes a decision
that he thinks is fair to all the parties involved.
Koehler deals with students and faculty in the same straight-forward
manner, Boschini said.
He is upfront and above board in all his interactions
with others, he said.
Koehler is genuinely concerned for TCU students, Johnson
He strives to help motivate the students he comes
in contact with to achieve their highest potential, and
he has continued to help many students long after they
graduate from TCU, she said.
Boschini said he will remember Koehlers willingness
to support him after he was appointed chancellor.
I will always remember all the help and assistance
he gave to me from the moment I was announced as the new
chancellor, Boschini said, from calling me
in Illinois to helping me the moment I arrived for
good in June.
Roach said she will remember Koehlers varying interests
Over the years I have known him to fly an airplane,
rappel off a building, teach a gourmet cooking class,
appreciate opera and country & western music at the
same time, and ride a motorcycle, she said. Besides,
hes the only person I know who has a pet pig!
Koehler said he will miss many things about being provost,
including the excitement of being a change agent.
However, he hopes to remain involved with TCU in a professional
Were talking about my staying involved on
a consulting basis, part time, he said.
As a consultant, Koehler would have no specific responsibilities
or set schedule. He would meet with university officials
such as the chancellor and athletic director on an as-needed
I would just provide what perspective I can,
Koehler said. Sort of be the local historian.
Koehler declined to speculate on the legacy he will leave
Ill leave that to the historians, he
However, several faculty and staff members offered their
I believe he will leave a a huge legacy at TCU
a legacy of academic quality and a legacy of always trying
to do what is best for TCU, Boschini said. His
heart is always in the right place.
Koehler will also be remembered for his vision and his
positive impact on TCU, Johnson said.
He has set the bar very high, she said.
So exactly what kind of shoes will the next provost have
In a word big, Boschini said.
and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs William
Koehler will leave big shoes to fill when he retires
of Dr. Koehlers career
1960: Graduated from Southern Methodist University
1962: Received M.S. degree in physical chemistry
1968: Earned Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from
1969: Joined TCU faculty as an assistant professor
1976: Became director of TCUs Office of
Research and Sponsored Projects
1977: Promoted to Associate Dean for Graduate
Studies and Research
1980: President of the TCU Research Foundation
1980: Became the Vice Chancellor for Academic
1994: Added title of Provost
to the campus under Koehlers tenure
Center for Teaching Excellence: Opened in
Engineering program began: First freshmen were
admitted in 1992
Center for Academic Services: Opened in 1988
Writing Center: Opened in 1988
Computer science department began: Opened in
Profile of TCU in 1980, when Koehler became Vice
Chancellor for Academic Affairs
46 percent male
54 percent female
298 full-time faculty
73 percent of faculty held doctorates
Square footage of facilities: 2,117,354
Tuition: $100 per credit hour
$310 total university fees
Profile of TCU in 2003
42 percent male
58 percent female
420 full-time faculty
81 percent of faculty held doctorates
Square footage of facilities: 3,010,928
$19,700 flat-rate tuition and fees