Aerial view of TAMU

President’s Brief - January 2024

General (Ret.) Mark A. Welsh III

January 18, 2024

Members of the Aggie Family,

Happy New Year and welcome back to campus for the start of the 2024 spring semester. I'm excited to start a new year here at Texas A&M University and look forward to continuing to work together to make this place the best it can be.

Our recent winter weather may have delayed the start of the semester, but it also gave us all the opportunity to test our emergency plans and processes. Thanks to our staff who helped prepare the campus for subfreezing temperatures. As a reminder, I encourage you to register for Code Maroon or download the mobile app to ensure you are receiving the latest emergency and safety information. We will continue to do our best to communicate decisions in a timely manner as we encounter future inclement weather. Your safety is of the utmost importance and with the unpredictable nature of Texas weather, it's good to be prepared.

In addition to these campus safety procedure reminders, here are a few important things you should know:

QUICK-LOOK IMPLEMENTATION: Our leads continue to make progress on the quick-look assessment decisions. Below are a few highlights:

  • Rather than simply reinstating the previous Dean of Faculties role, the committee charged with identifying the best ways to support faculty advocacy has proposed creating a new position, an Associate Provost for Faculty Advocacy. This redefined role would be embedded within Faculty Affairs and have a dotted line reporting structure to the Executive Vice President and Provost. I approved this recommendation, developed in collaboration with our faculty, last week. Additional details and next steps will be shared by the EVP and Provost later this month.
  • The quick-look assessment report for Texas A&M University at Galveston was made available online in December, with a window to submit feedback by Jan. 5. I will be sharing my final decisions with the Galveston community during a campus visit on Jan. 23. A recording will be made available after the meeting.
  • As you may recall, the space allocation study was initially split into two parts to better address the needs of our university community. I received the final, combined report on Dec. 21 and requested feedback from the president's cabinet and deans by Jan. 8. Based on the input received, I anticipate sharing the final report later this month.
  • In December, Dr. Mark Zoran was named Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences after serving as interim since last August. In collaboration with the EVP and Provost, then Interim Dean Zoran, fellow faculty and stakeholders proposed a finalized governance structure for consideration, which I formally approved for the new college on Jan. 2.
LEADERSHIP UPDATES AND ASSESSMENTS: There are a few recent changes to the president's cabinet that transpired over the holiday break, along with updates on our search for permanent dean positions:
  • President's Cabinet:
    • I'm happy to report that Henry Judah has agreed to step in as Interim Chief Compliance Officer following the retirement of Kevin McGinnis. Henry joined The Texas A&M University System Office of Risk Management in 2007 and moved to the university in 2022 to serve as Associate Vice President for Risk, Compliance and Advisory Services. I've enjoyed getting to work more closely with Henry over the last few weeks, and I'm grateful for his support during this time of transition. Regarding the search for a permanent Chief Compliance Officer, we have received interest from several outstanding candidates. I've interviewed each of them. As a next step, I'm forming a small committee composed of faculty, staff, students and administrators to review applications of the finalists and provide me with recommendations to help inform my final decision. I hope to have a permanent Chief Compliance Officer in place in February.
    • It's with mixed feelings that I share that Greg Hartman has announced that he will be leaving the university in March. Greg has been recruited to build and serve as the founding CEO of a new statewide organization focused on supporting the growth, public policy advocacy and strategic development of the YMCAs across the state of Texas. I'm sad to lose Greg, but I know he is going to do amazing things in this new role, and I wish him the best and thank him for his contributions to this university. Peter Lange, Associate Vice President of Transportation Services, has agreed to step in as Interim Chief Operating Officer as of March 1, and will work with Greg through February on the transition. A search for a permanent Chief Operating Officer will begin in the next few weeks.
    • And finally, you likely saw the news that Ross Bjork has accepted the role of Athletics Director at The Ohio State University. Ross has played a pivotal role in advancing Texas A&M's athletics programs and contributing to the overall success of our student-athletes. I wish him great success as he joins the leadership team at Ohio State. A committee will be formed quickly to identify a new Director of Athletics and I look forward to welcoming that leader to Aggieland as soon as possible.
  • Dean Searches:
    • College of Engineering: The search advisory committee has completed interviews and will present final candidates to me and Provost Sams this week. I anticipate a new dean will be named in the near future.
    • School of Performance, Visualization and Fine Arts: Listening sessions with the search advisory committee, chaired by Law School Dean Bobby Ahdieh, are ongoing.
    • School of Architecture: The search advisory committee, chaired by Vice Chancellor and Dean for Agriculture and Life Sciences Jeff Savell, is working to develop the leadership profile.
    • Bush School of Government and Public Service: The search advisory committee met for the first time last week and received their charge from Provost Sams.
  • Upcoming Leadership Assessments:
    • On a related topic, as part of our efforts to improve professional development at every level of the university, I'm instituting 360-degree assessments for myself, all vice presidents, the Commandant and the Director of Athletics. We will start this spring with half of these individuals. Assessments for the rest of the group will begin next year. The intent of the assessments is to ensure we do everything possible to provide the leadership you and this university deserve. We'll need your help and input to get this right.

S.B. 17 COMPLIANCE AND REPORTING PROCEDURE: As I mentioned in my December message, it will be incumbent upon all of us to ensure continued compliance with Senate Bill 17, which prohibits diversity, equity and inclusion offices and initiatives at public universities, effective Jan. 1, 2024. The law requires the Board of Regents to certify Texas A&M's compliance to the state legislature and coordinating board annually, and the System Ethics and Compliance Office has developed standard procedures to track and respond to any alleged violations of S.B. 17 going forward. Last week, the formal procedure for reporting potential violations of S.B. 17 was shared with the campus community. Remember, if you have any questions about federal or state laws, please contact your supervisor or work through our Division of Risk, Ethics and Compliance.

And finally, on Oct. 4, 2026, Texas A&M will celebrate its 150th birthday! While that sounds like a long time away, it will be here before you know it. To celebrate our university in the manner it deserves, I've asked Julie Mosbo Ballestro and Alexandra González Rainey to co-chair the Texas A&M University Sesquicentennial planning and execution effort. These two love Texas A&M — maybe even more than I do — so I know this committee is in great hands. I look forward to sharing additional information as the committee is established and begins planning. 

Don't forget, I'm monitoring and want to hear from you — your questions, thoughts and ideas are encouraged. You can also follow me for more real-time updates on Facebook and read my latest statements and correspondence with the university community on the Office of the President website. Please read on for some additional good news happening across the university.

It's good to have you home! Gig 'em! 

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

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