Aerial view of TAMU

President’s Brief – Dec. 2023

General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III

December 13, 2023

Members of the Aggie Family,

As the semester draws to a close and we begin to wrap things up for the holiday break, I can’t help but smile. Collectively, we’ve accomplished so much in just a few short months. We’ve come together to acknowledge our missteps, supported one another through change and transition, and taken time to celebrate our achievements and milestones. We are a family, one big Aggie Family, and I’m grateful to the Board of Regents and Chancellor Sharp for their confidence in my abilities to lead this family into the future.

I’ve lived what I consider a blessed life with many highs along the way, both personally and professionally, but being named president of Texas A&M University — a university I’ve loved since I was 6 years old — is truly humbling and one of the greatest honors of my life. This place is incredible, and I hope you know that it’s incredible because of each of you.

I look forward to working with you to map out the road ahead for Texas A&M. Thanks to your efforts, there is already great momentum, and I’m excited to see what the new year will bring.

In the spirit of keeping the momentum going, here are three important things you should know before you head out for the holiday break:

  • QUICK-LOOK ASSESSMENT: Our leads continue to make progress on the quick-look assessment decisions. Below are a few highlights:
    • The quick-look assessment report for Texas A&M University at Galveston was recently made available online. Now through Jan. 5, the university community is invited to provide feedback and input on the report to help inform my decisions. As you may recall, similar reviews are underway for Texas A&M University at Qatar and the Higher Education Center at McAllen. Those reports are expected to be shared for feedback in early 2024.
    • The space allocation study has been split into two parts to better address the needs of our university community. As the survey unfolded, it became apparent that some areas simply needed more time to review and propose alternative plans to accommodate different units and their respective teams. Part one, which includes proposed solutions for student study space on West Campus, was shared with the president’s cabinet and deans for comment last week, and I anticipate receiving part two later this month.
    • While the capacity and student experience studies were slated to begin in January 2024, work is already underway to support these efforts before the new year. Participants will be solicited from deans, the president’s cabinet and respective faculty, staff and student groups prior to the university closing for the holiday break.
    • I have received recommendations from Jack Baldauf, vice president for research, regarding the decision to allow School of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences researchers the choice to use either the university or AgriLife Research for processing grants. I’ll be reviewing this memo and associated recommendations over the holidays and will share decisions in the new year.
    • The Enrollment Management unit was recently recreated within the Office of the Provost to realign student-facing services from application to graduation within the same area. Specifically, this unit now includes Admissions, Recruitment, the Visitor Center, Registrar, Scholarships and Financial Aid, and Aggie One Stop.
  • ACADEMIC FREEDOM COUNCIL: Texas A&M faculty, librarians and students have a fundamental right to academic freedom. This freedom is essential for discovering, developing, communicating and applying knowledge in academia. Protections for academic freedom must be based in policies and procedures, not just statements of value. The task force has identified that the most efficient way to meet this need would be the creation of an Academic Freedom Council consisting of faculty, at least one librarian and one research scientist. University rule 12.01.99.M1 has been revised to include the council and will be available for feedback soon. I’m also currently reviewing the task force’s proposed official statement reaffirming our commitment to academic freedom and look forward to being able to finalize that soon.
  • S.B. 17 COMPLIANCE BY JAN. 1, 2024: I want to thank and recognize the important work happening across the university to ensure compliance with Senate Bill 17, which prohibits diversity, equity and inclusion offices and initiatives at public universities, effective Jan. 1, 2024. Thanks to all your hard work, we will be in full compliance by the new year when the bill goes into effect on Jan. 1. It will remain incumbent upon all of us to ensure continued compliance with this law, as with all federal and state laws. If you ever have questions about federal or state laws, please reach out to your supervisor or work through our Division of Risk, Ethics and Compliance.

In closing, later this week, I have the honor of celebrating the accomplishments of our fall graduates through several commencement ceremonies. It’s always such a special time as we send Aggies across the stage to earn their diplomas and join the ranks of our expansive Aggie Network. And before we know it, the holiday break will be upon us. Regardless of your traditions or how you celebrate this season, I hope you can spend time with those you love and come back rested and recharged for an exciting year ahead.

Please read on to see a few of the many results of your amazing work.

Happy holidays, and Gig ’em!

General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III, President

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