President's Monthly Update: March 2023M. Katherine Banks
March 20, 2023
I hope you enjoyed the long weekend and are ready for the final stretch of the spring semester. Spring is always a busy time, and this semester is no exception. Over the last few weeks, I’ve had the honor of attending a number of campus events and engaging with students, former students, faculty and staff: inducting our 11th prestigious class of Hagler Institute Fellows; celebrating the 50th season of OPAS with a special performance by former student and Distinguished Alumnus Lyle Lovett '79; unveiling a beautiful statue of Reveille.in Kyle Field Plaza; and attending spring sporting events to support our talented and dedicated student athletes. The energy and excitement at Texas A&M are in full bloom. Below are other exciting initiatives and developments currently underway.
Early Childhood Initiative
Today, we launched the new Texas A&M Institute for Early Childhood Development & Education, which marks an important step towards our commitment to supporting learning at every stage of life. In the coming months, we will add another children's center under our management to complement the Becky Gates Children's Center. The institute will work closely with these children’s centers to ensure that our teachers and staff have access to the best approaches in early childhood education. I encourage you to learn more about the new institute here.
Earlier this month, our students elected new student government leaders who will take office in mid-April. I would like to thank Case Harris ’23, outgoing student body president and his leadership team for their excellent and selfless service to our university. When I first met Case, I was very impressed with his priorities. Case’s theme for the year was "Building Unity Through Tradition" and under his leadership, student government celebrated many significant achievements, from creating opportunities for our students to learn about Aggie traditions—such as adding traditions education to our first-year student Hullabaloo U courses—to our first university-wide Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Week . I would also like to congratulate Hudson Kraus ’24, student body president-elect. I had the opportunity to meet Hudson recently and I look forward to working with him for a successful 2023-24 academic year.
88th Legislative Session
Since the Texas Legislative Session began this year, we have been proactive at our state’s Capitol. I had the honor of testifying before the Texas Senate Finance Committee and Texas House Appropriations Subcommittee on Article III. In my statements, I highlighted our priorities centered around maintaining affordability for students. These include support beyond formula funding to address inflation and enrollment growth, funding to support the Hazlewood Act "legacy student tuition waivers" and investment in student mental health. I also discussed our exceptional item request to fund 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.
In February, former students joined together to advocate for important issues with state legislators at Orange and Maroon Legislative Day. And this evening, we will host legislators for a special reception at Aggie Night at Rodeo Austin. Thanks to all who provided information and support to our Government Relations team this year.
Small Animal Teaching & Research Hospital
I've mentioned on numerous occasions that we aspire to have the best small animal hospital in the world. Thanks to the generosity of supporters Linda and Dennis Clark '68, '71, we are one step closer to achieving that goal. Earlier this month, I was honored to join the Clarks in a ceremony to celebrate their $20 million lead gift to support the construction of a new, next-generation Small Animal Teaching & Research Hospital. Thanks to the Clarks' generous gift, the facility will enable our veterinary students to have a truly transformational education experience, accommodate continued exceptional patient care and provide state-of-the-art laboratories for animal health and translational research. I look forward to sharing progress of this exciting endeavor in the coming months.
ASCEND and ADM
As a reminder, applications for our two newest research initiatives, ASCEND and Advancing Discovery to Market (ADM), are now being accepted. I encourage you to review the criteria for each program and identify potential opportunities to enhance your research projects:
- ASCEND, a $6 million seed-grant initiative for faculty and researchers to encourage new research partnerships across all scientific and academic disciplines.
- ADM, a $5 million research initiative designed to transform new discoveries and innovations into commercial products that improve everyday life. Faculty, researchers, students and staff are eligible.
Coffee + Conversation with University Leaders
Thank you to all who attended the first Coffee + Conversation event in the Academic Building in February. I enjoyed seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones. Our next event will be held on Wednesday, March 22, at the AgriLife Center. This will be a casual come-and-go event from 8:45 - 10 a.m. If you are unable to join us this week, please save the date for one of these upcoming events:
- April 19 - J. Wayne Stark Galleries
- May 23 - General Services Complex
These are just a few of the major initiatives and exciting events happening across our campuses each day. I encourage you to follow the Office of the President Facebook page to learn about more activities throughout the month and, as always, I invite you to share your thoughts or questions with me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In closing, I am grateful for all you do for Texas A&M. We have much to be proud of as we advance the university’s priorities and work to remain relevant, provide opportunity and influence society in new ways.
Thank you, and Gig ’em!
M. Katherine Banks
President, Texas A&M University