President's Monthly Update: Jan. 2023M. Katherine Banks
January 17, 2023
As students return to our campuses this week, I’m pleased to launch this monthly communication to share information about important initiatives. As I referenced in my January 2 email to the university community, I’m committed to intentional communications and engagement as we work to remain relevant, create opportunity and influence society in new ways.
We have much to look forward to this year. I thank you for your excellent work and dedication; together, we are leading the way in higher education.
New State Legislative Session
The 88th Legislative Session began last week. In addition to priorities such as an increase in student formula funding to address enrollment growth, funding to support the Hazlewood Act “legacy student tuition waivers” and investment in student mental health, we have an exceptional item request for a new Virtual Production Institute that will focus on developing emerging applications and a skilled workforce needed for the use of augmented reality platforms across multiple sectors of the state’s economy. Given the projected growth of the immersive reality market, this institute will ensure Texas A&M is preparing students for these high-demand jobs. You can learn more about these priorities by visiting the Government Relations website.
Alternate Work Location
I’m pleased to share that the new alternate work location (AWL) policy for non-faculty employees is now in place. We will continue to embrace a culture of in-person interaction while initiating a comprehensive and consistent process for remote work opportunities. Alternate work location guidelines are now available as a resource for both managers and employees.
Elevating Mental Health Resources
An area of significant importance to me is mental health and supporting our Texas A&M community through enhanced services and resources. A task force, co-chaired by Nancy Fahrenwald, associate vice president for University Health Services, and Student Body President Case Harris, has been created to audit the current state of student mental health, including resources that currently exist and those we may need. A similar assessment of existing resources for our employees is also underway. We are committed to increasing ease of access and available resources for the campus community and will share updates on the task force’s progress in the coming weeks.
ASCEND and ADM
As I mentioned in the State of the University address, we are advancing our research enterprise with the creation of new research funding programs. Just last week, the Division of Research shared an announcement on the launch of ASCEND, a collaborative seed grant initiative to encourage new research partnerships across all disciplines. To learn more about ASCEND, I encourage you to visit the program’s website. In the coming weeks, you’ll hear more about the Advancing Discovery to Market, or ADM fund, a $5 million fund in partnership with The Texas A&M System to assist faculty, staff and students when moving great ideas from discovery to commercial products.
These are just a few of the major initiatives that are advancing across our campuses in addition to the incredible research and education we are delivering every day. I want to thank each of you for your commitment to providing our students with a transformational education that prepares them to tackle challenges and opportunities.
Finally, I want to reiterate how much I appreciate your attendance and feedback at the town halls. I want to continue that spirit of open communication and invite you to share your thoughts or questions with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will be evaluating how the town hall model may be adapted moving forward to ensure we maintain in-person connection points. Additionally, next month, we will launch our coffee series for faculty and staff to join me and the leadership team for informal, open discussion. I hope to see many of you there. An invitation will be shared soon.
This is an exciting time to be an Aggie, and I am looking forward to a wonderful 2023.
Thank you, and Gig ’em!
M. Katherine Banks
President, Texas A&M University