President's Monthly Update: Feb. 2023M. Katherine Banks
February 13, 2023
I hope this email finds you well. As I’ve mentioned on numerous occasions, the importance of community connectivity is one of Texas A&M’s greatest strengths. As part of the university’s renewed focus on communities, I’m excited about our plans to expand our footprint across the state. Of note, Texas A&M-Fort Worth is moving quickly toward construction of the downtown campus. Several weeks ago, I had the honor of joining the Chancellor, System leaders, elected officials and partners from the city of Fort Worth and Tarrant County for an open house. Later that evening, I was pleased to be part of a new tradition at Texas A&M–Aggie Night at the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo. It was an incredible inaugural event full of Aggie maroon and Texas A&M-centric activities, from Parsons Mounted Cavalry riding in the grand entry to the Singing Cadets and Aggie Yell Leaders.
Home to more than 43,000 of our current and former students, Fort Worth has always been special to Texas A&M, and I’m looking forward to our growth in this important Texas community.
New Internal Email Process
I have heard concerns from many of you about the numerous emails you receive each day. To help our faculty, staff and students better manage the flow of information, we will streamline the bulk mail process and create new opt-in lists to more appropriately group campuswide email communications. Beginning February 27, faculty, staff and students may opt-in to the list(s) of their preference to receive a once daily digest email. More details on this new process and how to select your preferences will be shared soon.
Shared Governance Enhanced by New Committees
The Operations Assessment and Senior Faculty Advisory Committees have been established as integral channels of shared governance. I encourage you to view the Office of the President website to review the charge and membership of these important advisory groups, formed to serve as a mechanism for perspectives and recommendations for continuous improvement. I will be meeting with these groups regularly and plan to update you on their progress in future monthly updates.
As announced in my State of the University address, the newly created Advancing Discovery to Market (ADM) fund provides $5 million annually to advance the development or demonstrate the commercial potential of recent discoveries and move them into the marketplace. ADM is available to researchers, faculty, staff and students of Texas A&M University and its Texas A&M University System partner research state agencies: Texas A&M AgriLife Research, Texas A&M Engineering Experiment Station and the Texas A&M Transportation Institute. Details and a call for applications will be shared soon.
Office for Youth Engagement Established
As we look at how Texas A&M is remaining relevant, creating opportunity and influencing society in new and meaningful ways, I’m happy to share that our new Office for Youth Engagement was established in January. This new office will provide support to colleges, schools and units currently operating youth programs and will work to enable the development of new programming to meet emerging needs. I encourage all our current youth camp leaders to reach out to this office to learn how they can support your efforts and to ensure your camp becomes part of a comprehensive database to connect families with camps. Learn more about the Office for Youth Engagement by visiting their website.
Mental Health Resources Site Launched
As mentioned previously, mental health is an area of significant importance to me. The Student Mental Health Task Force, co-chaired by Nancy Fahrenwald, associate vice president for University Health Services, and Student Body President Case Harris, has made great progress to-date. Of note, today, a comprehensive online resource was launched to allow the campus community to quickly identify mental health services at Texas A&M. The new Mental Health First website will enable our students and employees to access available resources, including crisis, preventive and ongoing care available online, over the phone, via chat or face-to-face.
Good Bull Fund
In November, we announced that student organizations in good standing could apply for funding through the new Texas A&M University Good Bull Fund. The $1 million fund had an initial allocation pool of $250,000. Recognized student organizations and MSC committees were invited to request up to $5,000 for expenses associated with the planning and implementation of student-led activities at Texas A&M. I’m pleased that we were able to fund 74 of the 99 applications received for spring 2023, awarding $249,470. We will reopen applications for fall semester events after spring break.
Finally, I look forward to visiting with faculty and staff at the first Coffee + Conversation to be held at the Academic Building tomorrow, Tuesday, Feb. 14. This will be a casual come and go event from 8:30 to 10 a.m. If you are unable to make the first session, there will be additional opportunities on March 22, April 19 and May 23, as we move to different locations across campus. Additional details for future Coffee + Conversation events will be distributed soon.
As always, I welcome your ideas and feedback, which can be shared by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for all you are doing to embody the Aggie way and support a transformational education for our students.
Thank you, and Gig ’em!
M. Katherine Banks
President, Texas A&M University