By Chip Chandler
West Texas A&M University President Walter V. Wendler is on the road again, going places he’s already been.
In 2017, Wendler embarked on the "Your Community, Your University" tour, visiting virtually every public and private high school in the top 26 counties of Texas and speaking with students about their aspirations for the future.
Now, Wendler will kick off his second Region 16 “Your Community, Your University” Tour 2.0 on Sept. 14 with stops at Randall High School, Amarillo High School and Tascosa High School. The tour of 66 schools throughout the Texas Panhandle is expected to stretch through Oct. 29.
Wendler will discuss his “A Plan for One” with his audiences.
“I want students to make a plan that works for them, whether it’s attending WT or another university, starting off at community college, joining the military, working in their family business or attending trade or vocational school,” Wendler said. “They don’t have to worry about what everyone else is doing. The possibilities are endless. The important thing is to develop a plan.”
On the first incarnation of the tour, Wendler spoke to approximately 8,440 students and traveled nearly 6,890 miles. In both the 2017 and the 2021 tours, Wendler’s mission is to serve the students of the Texas Panhandle first, then beyond.
In 2019, he took the tour to Region 17, visiting 66 schools in the South Plains. On that leg, Wendler spoke to approximately 15,900 students and traveled nearly 6,995 miles.
The revival of the tour comes on the heels of Wendler’s personal initiative to send more than 3,000 individualized welcome videos for each student accepted by WT for the Fall 2021 semester. The initiative garnered national attention from Inside Higher Ed and EdScoop.
Since Wendler began these personalized outreach efforts, the University has seen two of the largest classes of freshmen enrollees in WT’s history — 1,344 students in 2019 and 1,348 students in 2021.
“At WT, we believe enrollment is everyone’s job, but to have a president who is willing to go to such lengths to connect with students around the Panhandle is really amazing,” said Mike Knox, vice president for student enrollment, engagement and success. “President Wendler’s efforts truly help us in our quest to create a welcoming, student-centered environment.”